SPOILER ALERT: this post contains pictures of the work so if you want to save your first impressions then dont read any further!
A giant green and yellow sculpture appeared outside my station (18). Then I saw Lava blobs (16) outside the walkie talkie building. I wondered to myself if I was hallucinating from reading too much WHA on the train, but no, it’s Sculpture in the city time again! Here is the map of all 18 locations around the square mile where the sculptures have been placed. Initially I thought I wouldn’t get to all of them but it was addictive, and like Pokemon I just had to see them all. I tried the smartify app on a couple, dont waste your time, it doesnt seem to work (on android anyway).
1. ‘Ajar’ | Gavin Turk | 2011
As a reference to the painting ‘La Victoire’ by Rene Magritte, ‘Ajar’ is a surreal gateway: a spiritual journey through the imagination, an interactive sculpture that children will enjoy as much as adults. It is a key to the imagination: unlocking ideas of the infinite as mused on by Aldous Huxley quoting Blake, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
It simultaneously references both Duchamp’s work ’11 Rue Larrey’, a corner door that is always open and shut and a Bugs Bunny sketch, where a door in a frame freely stands on a cliff in a landscape. ‘Ajar’ is placed without walls and is permanently half open encouraging the choice to go around, or go through. (City Of London, 2017)
As I walked up to this one I got a lovely sense of wonder that you sometimes get with Surrealist work. That’s what I like about the sculpture in the city website – no pictures, so you still get that first impression of the work in person. Without even reading the blurb on the plaque I knew this must reference Magritte but I love that he also mentioned bugs bunny in the list of inspirations. It’s interesting that Duchamp did one similar, since this is not a readymade, just made to look like one from bronze, tradition sculptural material. Having said that, Duchamp’s one wasn’t a real ready-made either if he had a carpenter specially make it to specifications rather than nabbing a mass produced door. Subverting the subversive.
2. ‘The Black Horse’ | Mark Wallinger | 2015
The sculpture was made with the help of advanced technology, scanning a racehorse, part owned by the artist, named Rivera Red.
The horse is a subject with deep emotional and historical meaning. As the artist notes, ‘people still have an atavistic love of horses.’ Though bent to our will the thoroughbred represents unfathomable instincts.
The thoroughbred could perhaps stand as an exemplar of this country’s identity and our relationship with the natural world. It was first developed at the beginning of the 18th century in England, when native mares were crossbred with imported Arabian stallions. Every racehorse in the world is descended from these animals. (City Of London, 2017)
This was one of the handful of the sculptures which had a homeless person taken up residence nearby. In this case, I thought the big issuer seller and his dog were an interesting subversion of the context of the work. Owning/keeping a thoroughbred is the province of the very rich, situated in the centre of the financial district, side by side is a man who is penniless keeping a dog for protection while he lives on the streets. It reminded me a little of the recent saga of the Bull in New York and the subversion of that work by Fearless Girl, then the resubversion of that by Pissing Pug.
3. ‘Work No. 2814’ | Martin Creed | 2017
Merging art and life, Martin Creed uses ordinary materials and everyday situations to create multimedia works that have confounded and delighted viewers and critics for nearly 30 years.
In Work No. 2814 a tree ‘blossoms’ with plastic bags caught amongst the branches. This accentuates what some might see as a common ‘everyday’ occurrence, until it becomes something more absurd, yet humorous and strangely beautiful at the same time.
Creed approaches art making with humour, anxiety, and experimentation, and with the sensibility of a musician and composer, underpinning everything he does with his open ambiguity about what art is. (City Of London, 2017)
To be honest, I dont think one person noticed this while I was standing watching, until I raised my phone to take a picture. I think if he wanted to make it more absured than the everyday he would need lots more bags here!
4. ‘Never has there been such urgency, or The eloquent and the Gaga’ | Ryan Gander | 2014
An air-dropped aid parcel suspended from a tree by it’s parachute.
The parcel contains items relating to the subject of the ‘disparity between research based practices and production based practices; the polarity between the conceptual significance of the object as carrier; and the gulf between learning to speak with great articulation and eloquence and the incoherency of stuttering and stammering a chain of unrelated words at great volume’.
The contents of the aid parcel are listed on an etched, metal plaque placed nearby. (City Of London, 2017)
This one is just damn strange. The metal plate lists all the contents and says things like “An A1 sized offset print of an image of the fictional artist Aston Ernest standing on Sizewell beach, Suffolk, UK, dressed in a fisherman’s yellow waterproof Oilskin, whilst engaged in his performative artwork entitled Speak Easy, 1989, in which the artist attempts to hook the horizon, where the sea meets the sky, with a wooden walking stick, whilst shouting the poem ‘Speak Easy’ at the sea.” and “Two flesh coloured European size 38 ladies thongs and two pairs of ladies flesh coloured mesh briefs, also European sized 38, purchased by an assistant of the artist from the retailer Topshop.”
I had to go back to the one after walking past it on two occassions and not seeing it, mainly because Paul McCarthy’s sculpture (below) is just past the tree that this in so that is the first thing that catches your eye in this clearing.
5. ‘Apple Tree Boy Apple Tree Girl’ | Paul McCarthy | 2010
Paul McCarthy’s ‘Apple Tree Boy Apple Tree Girl’ (2010) belongs to the artist’s Hummel series, executed on a monumental scale. The kitsch mid-century German figurines depict rosy-cheeked children in idyllic repose. In McCarthy’s world, this Aryan naïveté becomes a target for parody, and ultimately, defilement and disfigurement. The figures deformed innocence suggests the conditioning of children, from Hitler youths to contemporary, TV-addled teen consumers. The miniature Adam and Eve find themselves reborn as 18 foot Überkinder; they remain only a suggestion of their former selves, sweetly deformed to the point of abstraction. The implicit naïveté of the Hummel motif is materially deconstructed, portraying a sophisticated fall from grace for these darling figures, in simultaneously literal and metaphorical terms. (City Of London, 2017)
This one was creepy. The texture was very interesting though.
6. Black Shed Expanded’ | Nathaniel Rackowe | 2014/2016
Nathaniel Rackowe’s large-scale urban shed structure is installed, seemingly mid-explosion, upside-down, its contours wrenched apart, exposing its illuminated interior. The wooden shed, painted with black bitumen, emanates an eerie acid-yellow glow from the white strip-lighting inside it reflecting off the painted walls of its interior. The structure appears to be exploding, split apart by the force of the light within. Rackowe says, ‘I thought it interesting to take the humble shed and elevate it so it can rise up and challenge architecture, deconstructing it to the point where you are forced to re-read it.’ Referring to garden sheds throughout the suburbs of London, the work has an equally universal impact in its depiction of such a familiar, domestic structure. (City Of London, 2017)
I loved this! It taps into the cultish standing recently of the humble shed. I wonder if he is a follower of shed porn or fifty sheds of grey of twitter?
7. ‘4 Colours at 3 Metres High Situated Work’ | Daniel Buren | 2011
4 Colours at 3 metres high situated work is a variation on the theme of the pergola or ‘attrape soleil’, which Daniel Buren has explored in several public works, which play with outdoor light, the movement of the sun, architecture and coloured shadows. All of Buren’s interventions are created ‘in situ’, appropriating and colouring the spaces in which they are presented. They are critical tools addressing questions of how we look and perceive, and the way space can be used, appropriated, and revealed in its social and physical nature. In his work life finds its way into art, while autonomous art is able to reconnect with life. (City Of London, 2017)
I think I visited this one at the wrong time of the day. I saw a picture on the internet where the colours were reflected onto the pavement, so presumably they move around the structure with the sun. Probably mid-day would be best. When I went after work the sun was so low it was behind all the buildings but I could still go into it and look up through the colours which was fun.
8. ‘Reminiscence’ | Fernando Casasempere | 2017
Fernando Casasempere (born 1958) is a sculptor working with ceramics, the traditional material of pottery, and his work explores ideas relating to landscape and the environment. Conceptually his use of earth/clay and his concern with nature and ecological issues connects him to artists associated with the Land or Earth Art movement, but Casasempere works out of a very different cultural tradition, being profoundly inspired by the Pre-Columbian art and architecture of Latin America. Reminiscence (2017) evokes not only geology but the remains of a once-grand ruined structure or even a construction site. Placed in the heart of the City of London it is a powerful statement about the relationship between nature and culture. (City Of London, 2017)
The texture of this was lovely but it didnt look like porcelain. One of the few of them I was compelled to touch.
9. ‘Tipping Point’ | Kevin Killen | 2016
Video here :
In this series of work, my role has been to observe and photo-document, studying the outlines created by city lights. Walking the city photographing and recording, the non-stop nature of the city is documented through endless small events and incidents. Long-exposure photographs capture objects and people as black marks obstructing the lights of the city. I later “translate” these images into three-dimensional neon installations, with the city sounds correlated to match the sequence of the neon as it turns on and off. (City Of London, 2017)
This one was quite easy to spot on the wall nearby the information plaque. It was interesting to watch the neons flashing and imagine what bits of city each was correspoding to. I took a small video of this one.
10. 12. & 13. ‘Support for a Cloud’ | Mhairi Vari | 2017
Support for a Cloud plays across ideas of macro and micro – referencing concepts rooted in the natural sciences from cosmological formation to that of the insect cocoon. The artwork which is hung in three different locations is intended to inhabit the urban environment with its alien, nest-like structures that play on synthetic/organic forms. The visibly complex surface of these cocoon-like structures is generated by loops of agglomerated tape. The surface is alluring, even seductive and gently catches both daylight and artificial light, which animate the work further. These works are like small pieces of architecture inhabiting the manmade environment like nests or protective cocoons. (City Of London, 2017)
I went to the plaque at #10, looked around. Nothing obvious. Then looked up. I still wasnt sure. It’s so cleverly integrated with the archicture it looks ‘natural’ but also alien, kind of like a creepy cocoon. It reminded me of the Alien films, where’s Signory Weaver when you need her? I had to go back to see 12 and 13 since apparently I walked right past them without spotting them. It’s also grown on me with repeated viewing.
11. ‘Dreamy Bathroom’ | Gary Webb | 2014
Gary Webb’s whimsical, texturised tower of joyful abstraction is composed of a number of individually crafted components. The use of bronze, which lends Dreamy Bathroom a sense of sculptural gravitas, is pitched against the colourful, aesthetic playfulness of the shapes. The reflective, brightly coloured surfaces allude to, or parody, the kitsch appropriations of Pop Art, whilst the forms themselves are a nod to the post-industrial rigours of Modernism. Webb’s practice focuses on the formal interplay between contrasting shapes, lines, materials, fabrication techniques and points of art-historical reference. Rendered in a combination of industrial, organic and classical materials, Webb combines traditional craft methodologies with modern technologies, in order to create work that evades categorization, and tends towards the inscrutable. (City Of London, 2017)
14. ‘Falling into virtual reality’ | Recycle Group | 2016
Recycle Group reflects on what our time will leave behind for future generations, what artefacts archaeologists will find after we are gone, and whether these artefacts will find their place in the cultural layer. As their name suggests, the duo is concerned about the rising level of material waste as a byproduct of widespread consumerism, creating work through the use of recycled materials. Their works also “recycles ideas”, drawing upon classical Western traditions such as narrative relief carving and Christian iconography to compare contemporary times with other histories – social media with religion, corporate leaders with kings, and online existence with mausoleums. The artists’ latest installation created for Sculpture in the City features a scene of a person falling into the virtual world executed in traditional saint-like image in mesh bas-relief. The mobile gadgets act as an emphasis that technology has on the modern world and questions yet again the idea of virtual archeology. The work draws inspiration by the futurist novel, Simulacron 3 (1964). (City Of London, 2017)
View the introduction video of Falling into virtual reality here:
15. ‘Temple’ | Damien Hirst | 2008
‘Temple’ is a 21-foot painted bronze sculpture that weighs over three tonnes. Made in 2008, it presents a male torso whose partial exposure reveals the underlying musculature and organs. The artwork illustrates Hirst’s long-standing interest in anatomical models, which were initially featured alongside pharmaceutical packaging and specimen jars in his early ‘Medicine Cabinet’ series. ‘Temple’ succeeds other monumental anatomical models made by Hirst, including ‘Hymn’ (1999-2005), which was inspired by a model belonging to Hirst’s son, Connor. The artist explains: “I loved it that it was [like] a toy […] similar to a medical thing, but much happier, friendlier, more colourful and bright.” Damien Hirst cited in Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, ‘On the Way to Work’ (Faber and Faber, 2001), 147. (City Of London, 2017)
I wouldn’t have guessed this was bronze, it looks like a giant version of one of those plastic models you see where the pieces come out like a organ puzzle. It’s much more impressive than 16-17, I wondered if they put it in this out of the way space because people would travel further to see work by a familiar name?
16. ‘Untitled x3’ | Bosco Sodi | 2012-15
Sodi’s rocks are, for all intents and purposes, excerpts from the natural world transformed through a highly physical process. Extracting dried volcanic magma from the Ceboruco volcano in Mexico, and selecting each rock for its formal qualities, he glazes the brittle surface before firing the sculpture at extremely high temperatures for three days. Each stone, having been subjected to variable elements, such as atmospheric pressure, humidity and temperature, reacts in unique, sometimes destructive ways. By altering the surface texture and the context in which these rocks exist – in this case the streets of London – he reflects on our perception of value and antiquity. The artist creates an incongruity between the setting and the course, and the exterior and core, of each piece. (City Of London, 2017)
A.K.A. Lava blobs. That’s what he should have called it if he was stuck for a title. Initially I saw these after seeing the plastic-fantastic looking one at #18 (below) and assumed it was from the same artist. I walked passed them both times in a bit of a hurry and must admit to being a bit disparaging about the look of them. When I took the time to read the blub (far enough to the side not to be immediately obvious if you go sailing past) I was amazed to see that they are actually real lava, glazed over.
17. ‘Envelope of Pulsation (For Leo)’ | Peter Randall-Page RA | 2017
Peter Randall-Page (RA) was born in the UK in 1954 and studied sculpture at Bath Academy of Art from 1973-77. During the past 30 years he has gained an international reputation through his sculpture, drawings and prints. Shown for the first time in its Fenwick Street location for Sculpture in the City, Randall-Page’s most recent sculpture, Envelope of Pulsation (For Leo) 2017, is carved from a rare block of granite from Blackenstone quarry on Dartmoor. This new sculpture is the latest in a series of works exploring the way in which subtle modulations of the stone’s surface can evoke a sense of internal structure in the imagination of the viewer. ‘Envelope of Pulsation’ is a tantric aphorism describing form. The dedication is for Peter’s late friend, Leo, who owned the quarry.(City Of London, 2017)
Another one where the homeless man is getting more attention that the work, well he was there first! Its also another one which is easy to overlook, when coming from the other direction you see the giant and green and yellow of the one below pulling you eyes first. The texture of the one can really only be appreciated from certain angles, its one you have to work to be interested in.
18. ‘Synapsid’ | Karen Tang | 2014
‘Synapsid’ (2014) is a large, vividly coloured sculpture which seems to morph between abstract, alien and animal forms. With its radioactive hues and blobby segments, ‘Synapsid’ evokes sci-fi invasion scenarios where monsters rampage through the built environment. The sculpture takes its title from the scientific name for proto-mammals which evolved to have skulls distinct from those of reptiles; the structure of ‘Synapsid’ hints at a cranial enclosure and eye-sockets. Viewers are drawn into Synapsid’s apertures and interior spaces, which are designed to be immersive, interactive and playful. (City Of London, 2017)
I have to say, I still dont like this one. I thought it would grow on me, and perhaps it has a little, but its still meh.
City Of London. (2017) About the artworks At: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/visit-the-city/art-architecture/sculpture-in-the-city/Pages/about-the-artworks.aspx
(Accessed on 30 June 17)