If you’ve ever been down to our cloakrooms you will have undoubtedly experienced the unnerving double-take effect of Paradoxymoron by Patrick Hughes.
It is an optical illusion that shows a series of library book stacks which appear to move with your own movements – and is a surprising head-turner for children and adults alike.
Dubbed a ‘reverspective’ (reverse perspective), Patrick made his first one, Sticking-out Room in 1964, and didn’t repeat the technique for almost three decades when he completed Paradoxymoron (1996).
The creative process involves building a 3D shape in wood, painting it white and measuring and sketching the geometric lines, before painting it with careful attention to shadows and light. It is essentially a sculptured painting which uses simple geometry with 90° and 45° angles.
Paradoxymoron took Patrick a couple of months to make at home, with a saw and a pot of glue, in his Belsize Park flat.
'It’s an honour to have my work in the British Library’ he said. ‘I’m a booky kind of person and bookshelves are good subjects for my work with perspectives.'
The artwork can be found on the Lower Ground Floor just outside the cloakroom, an area where visitors are in motion and get to experience the somewhat alarming sensation of the painting following their movements.
Read more about the artist behind the work.