“Out of Order” telephone box artwork refurbished in Kingston

Kingston upon Thames’ famous sculpture of twelve falling red telephone boxes on Old London Road was revamped this April.

Telephone boxes before refurbishment Photo: Kirsten Lee

Artist David Mach constructed the “Out of Order” public art piece 30 years ago. The piece had suffered some damage due to weathering, leaving the boxes faded, rusted, covered in graffiti, with broken panels and flaked paint.

Its anniversary correlated with its re-unveiling on April 6, where the artist, together with those who funded the refurbishment, celebrated its new look.

In an interview, Mach said he was very pleased with the update, saying that it looked just like new.

He said: “It was a staple that hadn’t been painted for some time. The council gave it a lick of paint and it looks great.”

A fresh lick of paint and it looks like new.   Photo: Kirsten Lee

Mach is known for his large-scale installations and always uses materials that people would recognise to pique interest. With such a well-known design like telephone boxes, Mach was able to make a statement.

The sculpture celebrates its 30th anniversary this April. Photo: Kirsten Lee

When asked about his reasoning behind the sculpture those 30 years ago, he said: “I didn’t like the idea that they [telephone boxes] were going out of service. It binds the UK together, a very British thing and I used them in a stranger way.”

The structure is a tourism landmark in Kingston on a road that is known for its quirky independent shops, vintage stores and history.

“It’s iconic. They are the best icons for this country. The design is so great and the colour is so great. Because of the Britishness of them, it can go anywhere,” Mach added.

The renovation was funded by Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames to keep encouraging tourism and boost the area, together with the town’s Business Improvement District, Kingston First and Danehurst, the student accommodation property developers near the artwork.

Cllr Liz Green, leader of the council said: “We’re delighted to work with Kingston First and other partners to see this landmark in Kingston refreshed and reinvigorated for residents, businesses and visitors to enjoy.

“We’re looking forward to continuing to work on initiatives which both continue to showcase Kingston’s cultural and historical offer and enhance the town’s offer in this way.”

Mach, who was once a lecturer at the Sculpture School at Kingston University, is currently working on more installations after just finishing a piece at Chester Cathedral last week.

Old London Road – tourism hotspot.  Photo: Kirsten Lee
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