In partnership with the Embassy of the Dominican Republic, St Mary le Strand in Aldwych will host CONEXIÓN, a large scale installation by Dominican artist and architect Lidia León.
CONEXIÓN will occupy the length of the nave, comprising panels constructed from tobacco leaves. Together, the panels form a collage inspired by ancient stained glass windows and create a dynamic space in which visitors can find a connection with nature.
Coexistence is a fundamental theme for LiLeón. Her focus on the wabi-sabi philosophy, which seeks beauty in decay, inspired her to envisage CONEXIÓN as an autumn garden inside the church, with leaves falling to the ground or drifting slowly upwards towards the sky. The movement of the leaves recalls the cycles of being and the connection between earthly and spiritual realms. Their transparency, which reveals their veins, is an invitation to look at collective spaces as a common good, a single living organism to be respected and passed on to future generations.
The tobacco plants, which situate the work in a Caribbean landscape and are a crucial part of the socioeconomic development of the Dominican Republic, are a recurring theme in LiLeón’s imagery: she was born and raised in a family of tobacco farmers.
CONEXIÓN was first presented at the Dominican Republic Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Biennale Exhibition in Venice in 2021, responding to the Biennale's curator Hashmin Sarkis’s question “How will we live together?”
St Mary le Strand Church stands at the centre of the Strand Aldwych district. The section of the Strand making up the south side of the Aldwych is being pedestrianised, creating a new Piazza, with the ambition from Westminster City Council, in partnership with The Northbank BID and local institutions, of creating a ‘Global Cultural Thinking Quarter’. St Mary le Strand will be the centrepiece of this new Piazza and has embarked on a major restoration and development project to make it ‘fit for purpose’ in this new setting.