How often do you notice the area you work in? Caught up in the frantic rush of getting to and from work on time, we barely register our surroundings. But while we’re dashing in and out of revolving doors; sprouting up amidst the sky-scrapers of the Square Mile are some of the world’s most cutting-edge pieces of contemporary art. Featuring leading names such as the legendary Damien Hirst and America’s Bruce Beasley, Sculpture in the City aims to enhance our urban environment and make us see our work environment from a fresh perspective.
Now in its fifth year, Sculpture in the City is the brain child of the City of London Corporation in collaboration with world-renowned artists and City businesses.
Suspended canoes, alien deep-sea divers and a crop circle of men’s shoes are just a few of the objects which have surreptitiously materialised overnight in the shadow of some of the world’s most powerful corporations. Perfect for a lunch break outing, the trail provides an intriguing respite from the cut and thrust of the financial world….. if you dare leave your desk.
The trail includes fourteen different sculptures dotted around the City’s famous architectural landscapes including the Gherkin and the Lloyd’s Building.
The star of the show is Damien Hirst’s Charity – a 22-foot bronze sculpture based on the Spastics Society’s (now Scope) charity collection box – a familiar sight outside chemists and local shops in the 1960s and 1970s. Juxtaposed against the shiny Gherkin, the figure portrays a surreal vulnerability, completely at odds with her environment.
Cutting a more formidable figure is Folkert de Jong’s Old DNA which is based on a 3D scan of a suit of armour owned by King Henry VIII. The sculpture explores the theme of power, its endurance and inevitable decay.
From the past to the future, a curious crop circle of bronze shoes intertwined with laces provides a hopeful commemoration of a future, “when we will be able to slip into these shoes and be part of a community that will create a better history, with more solidarity, more generosity and regeneration”.
The most unsettling of the sculptures is Cats I and II by Laura Ford. Pacing around in states of inner anguish, the cats are an uncomfortable reminder of the intense pressure played out in some of the offices around us.
The whole sculpture trail takes around 60 minutes to walk round.
Download a map of Sculpture in the City here.