The Serpentine’s ‘Black Chapel’ Pavilion is Open

Words by
Lee Cassanell

16th June 2022

A new space designed for ‘shared emotional and spiritual experiences brought forth by sacred music and sacred art.’

serpentine chapel

Designed by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates, the Black Chapel is a site for contemplation and convening, set within the grounds of Serpentine in Kensington Gardens. 

Referencing the bottle kilns of Stoke-on-Trent, the beehive kilns of the Western United States, San Pietro and the Roman tempiettos, and traditional African structures, such as the Musgum mud huts of Cameroon, and the Kasubi Tombs of Kampal. The Pavilion’s circularity and volume echo the sacred forms of Hungarian round churches and the ring shouts, voodoo circles and roda de capoeira witnessed in the sacred practices of the African diaspora.

"Black Chapel suggests that in these times there could be a space where one could rest from the pressures of the day and spend time in quietude," said Gates:

"I have always wanted to build spaces that consider the power of sound and music as a healing mechanism and emotive force that allows people to enter a space of deep reflection and deep participation."

As part of Serpentine’s summer programme, the Pavilion will become a space for live performances and public gatherings hosting performances by The Vernon Spring, The Choir of the London Oratory, Moses Boyd, Corinne Bailey Rae, and the Black Monks alongside workshops by Mud Gang Pottery C.I.C, and a tea ceremony by Keiko Uchida.