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Sculpture in the City, Art for Everyone

SEEN thoroughly enjoyed a preview of the 18 new artworks around the financial district’s square mile. Set up by The City of London in 2010, this excellent initiative expands its footprint every year, improving the area and proving that when people are happy, they work better. Sculpture in the City brings many stakeholders together in the square mile; Bloomberg, Hiscox and Aon, to name but three. Famous architectural landmarks, such as the Gherkin, the Lloyds Building are enhanced by the sudden and often surprising appearance of exciting modern art. Previous exhibiting artists have included Yayoi Kusama, Ai Wei Wei, Lynn Chadwick and Gavin Turk.

Nathaniel Rackowe

It’s dynamic, fun, and best of all, free to view for the next year, and certainly enhances the urban environment for office workers and visitors to the City. As a project it’s evolving all the time enjoying fabulous interaction from the public. Let us not forget that Crossrail will bring 1 million extra visitors to this area and it is the duty of stakeholders to maintain the wellbeing of visitors and workers alike.

Paul McCarthy

What’s notable about Sculpture in the City is the vast range of art works on display, from the small (Mhairi Vari’s Support for a Cloud) to the huge and monumental (Damien Hirst’s Temple), it’s a good example of what public art is and should be. Often site-specific and responsive to the materials already used in surrounding architecture, it’s worth remembering that though the City is obviously business-centred, it has strong links to Whitechapel and Barbican art galleries, both of which are but a short walk away.

Mhairi Vari

The selection was made from an open call of 120 artworks. SITC worked with each selected artist and piece to find the right location. In order to extend the reach of the project, some pieces were fixed to trees and hung from buildings. The area lends itself to contemporary art due to the mixture of classical and modern architecture. The premise is very simple: Visitors can follow a map of the art trail or even download the excellent Smartify app, whereby the viewer scans the artwork with their smartphone which then connects them directly to information about the piece and the artist in a very direct way through artist interviews, biographies etc. There are six new locations for 2017, extending to St Botolph’s in the North and Fenchurch Street in the South. 2018 will see SITC heading towards Aldgate as well. Local schools are also involved with art projects and will create their own responses.

Peter Randall

Highlights for SEEN included Dreamy Bathroom 2014 by Gary Webb, just opposite the Lloyds Building. It’s a giant playful jumble of jewel-like objects, like unwrapping a present; Plastic Bags by Martin Creed (in Bishopsgate), literally brightly-coloured plastic bags fastened to the branches of a tree, which makes a witty comment on litter. It will be interesting to see how the aesthetic changes as the seasons alter and leaves fall; and Synapsid by Karen Tang (close to Fenchurch Street). The artist herself was there to talk us through the huge skull-like structure and links to the monster movies of her youth. The green and acid-yellow colours too, hint at cartoon-style radioactivity and protean evolution. Like many of the pieces on display, it’s playful and the very opposite of stuffy, monumental art that seems to be aloof from human experience, interaction and appreciation. SEEN recommends.

Ryan Gander

Various locations in the City of London’s Square Mile