Seth, God of Chaos and the Desert, bought a powerdrill. Neith, Goddess of The Hunt and later Protector of the Dead, sits boyishly on the Fire Exit. Their eight companions, all also Egyptian deities, stand around, in peace now that the cars and car wash before them have gone. But all are set to leave this world.
These are the deities of the long wall at Homebase, Warwick Road, in Kensington, London. The building was designed by Ian Pollard in 1988, built by his company Flaxman, and opening in 1990. It may be the maddest building in London’s brief but mad Post-Modernist architectural period, up there with Terry Farrel’s TV-AM egg-cups in Camden (1982), or GMW’s faux-gothic Minster Court offices (1991) in the City, which Walt Disney made into a star in 101 Dalmations. Pollard’s other PoMo masterpiece, the Marco Polo Building in Battersea, was senselessly destroyed earlier this year, 2014.
On the Warwick Road, Pollard’s design contains not just deities but lines of Egyptian columns, a monumental Egyptian temple entrance, and curiously, a window shaped into a wave by bright green ribs, just like one designed by another great PoMo architect, James Stirling for the Neue Staatsgallerie in Stuttgart (1984). But in London, the parade of Gods is the Homebase highlight.
Sadly, when Homebase saw them emerging, they called a halt to further whimsy and so only three deities are painted with gold and other colours.
Even sadder, the building is due for demolition and redevelopment into luxury flats by humourless speculators. Homebase closed in June 2014, and the car park was closed in July. Even as you read this, this fantastic frieze of the Gods may already be history.
In Egypt, respect for the deities faded but returned after two millennia and they are now treasured. In quick-buck developers’ London, the deities last barely a quarter century.
All photographs © Herbert Wright 2014