• Helen KC | Helen Kotonias

'Head Above Water' in support of Time to Change - Mental Health Matters

Giant head sculpture designed by Steuart Padwick has been erected overlooking the Thames on the South Bank, in support of mental health awareness and the anti-stigma, anti-discrimination campaign 'Time to Change' founded by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness charities.


'Head Above Water' by Steuart Padwick | Photo credit Luke Walker © 2018 Getty Images

A giant head has been constructed on Gabriel’s pier (also known as Queen's Stone Jetty) overlooking the Thames on the South Bank with the intention to spark conversation raising awareness of mental health issues and the anti-stigma, anti-discrimination campaign 'Time to Change' founded by two charities; Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.


The nine metre tall interactive sculpture named 'Head Above Water' is designed by Steuart Padwick, a British multi award winning designer of furniture and lighting. The public piece of art coincides with London Design Festival 2018 as part of designjunction and will stand from 15th - 23rd September.


The installation is made from cross laminated timber sourced from PEFC certified forests, it is deliberately neutral, non specific of gender, ethnicity and age as mental health illnesses can effect anyone. 'Head Above Water' is intended to stand as a symbol of hope and humanity, for those who have battled mental health issues, those who continue to do so and for the people who support them.


At night 'Head above Water' is lit up and the public can interact with it’s changing colours via a designated Twitter feed to express how they are feeling by tweeting one of the head's 14 emotions and using the hashtag #HeadAboveWaterLondon. Eg: #Hope #HeadAboveWaterLondon. You do not need to tag @hawLDN into the Tweet but I've included the user handle if you wish to give them a follow.


  1. #Love - shines blue, red and pink.

  2. #Happy - shines pink and yellow.

  3. #OK - shines warm white.

  4. #Pride - shines deep orange and midnight blue.

  5. #Hope - shines light blue.

  6. #Faith - shines gold.

  7. #Joy - shines orange and yellow.

  8. #Empathy - shines pale green and peach.

  9. #Hate - shines cold white.

  10. #Sad - shines blue and grey.

  11. #Shame - shines deep crimson.

  12. #Fear - shines dark blue and purple.

  13. #Angry - shines red.

  14. #Pain, #Guilt, #Regret - shines jade.

Whilst it is common knowledge that the mental health service within the NHS are still underfunded and growing in demand, it is great that we are identifying the issues and relating to figures who speak out regarding their struggles but sadly access to free help in person is limited often with long waiting lists to be seen. The sculpture has been criticised by some as the project asked for donations of £12,000 towards it's build via a JustGiving Crowdfunding page. One lady commented that in her opinion the 'head' trivialises mental health and insults those who suffer from it.' Whilst a gentleman highlighted that 'cash strapped charities are desperate for funds'. Whether you share those views or not, the head has become a talking point thus fulfilling its purpose.


This year the South Bank has been host to a number of public art pieces, you may remember Project 84 back in March, where eighty four life-sized sculptures of male suicide victims were installed on ITV's previous central London studios. Bereaved families worked with suicide prevention charity CALM to get people talking about suicide, the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. More recently the bank was also home to pop up tourist attraction, a statue of Jeff Goldblum in celebration of 25 years of Jurassic Park.



If you suffer from depression or another mental illness, you may find my Mindfulness blog post helpful and please also click on the charities and campaign listed in this post for further information and help. There are many forms of mental health illness and unfortunately sometimes we may find ourselves impacted by others struggles. For those who may be in an abusive relationship and suspect their partner of suffering with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and addiction, you may find this blog post entry helpful.



#TimeToChange #Mind #MindCharity #Charity #RethinkMentalllness #LDF18 #LondonDesignFestival #LondonDesignFestival2018 #designjunction #HeadAboveWaterLondon #SteuartPadwick #Project84 #CalmCharity #Calm #Mindfulness #NarcissisticPersonalityDisorder #NPD #JurassicJeff #JurassicPark #JeffGoldblum

© 2018 Helen Kotonias | All Rights Reserved.

  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Instagram Icon
  • White Twitter Icon
  • White YouTube Icon
  • White SoundCloud Icon
  • White Snapchat Icon
  • White LinkedIn Icon
  • White RSS Icon