Outdoor contemporary sculptures bring so much to the cityscape. They can turn a familiar street or square into a new and exciting collective experience. This is why Sculpture in the City is such a beautiful project not to be missed this year.
The idea of increasing opportunities to interact with public art in the core of the financial district is admirable. As British sculptor Antony Gormley recently wrote: “Art was always made to be shared. Art is the vehicle in which individual experience becomes collective.”
A collaboration between the City of London Corporation, local businesses mainly from the insurance sector and art galleries, this open air exhibition is taking place for the fifth year along a trail featuring the greatest starchitects’ buildings as well as the most beautiful churchyards of the neighbourhood. It is not a surprise that the initiative has been recently selected among the winning projects for the 2015 Civic Trust Awards for its contribution to the appearance of the built environment.
Fourteen sculptures by contemporary international artists can be seen along the itinerary. The two sculptures that start the itinerary are by Belgian artist Kris Martin. Born and based in Ghent, Martin is a conceptual artist largely influenced by his own city and its surroundings. In Altar, he has created a metal replica of the panels of the fifteenth-century Flemish Art masterpiece,the Ghent Altarpiece, by Van Eyck brothers also known as the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.
Instead of contemplating the details of the original piece, you look at the urban space through the open structure . Made of raw steel, the frame captures the sun light on beautiful days. A similar sculpture can currently be seen on the High Line in New York.
Kris Martin also often plays with bells, a familiar object from his home town. In Bells II, he has attached two church bells together, eliminating any possibility of sound effect leaving us with the street noise as the only alternative.
This year, two female artists have been selected. Laura Ford is one of them. Well-known for creating animal figures to explore our human condition, she shows on Leadenhall street a bronze sculpture from a recent series called ‘Days of Judgement’. This series is currently also exhibited at the Abbott Hall Gallery. Like Kris Martin, Ford is inspired by a Renaissance piece, a fresco from Italian artist Masaccio called ‘The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden’ now in the Brancacci Chapel, Florence. Adam and Eve take here the shape of very tall cats with featureless faces but with a body language that expresses emotions and depth in an extraordinary way.
The other female artist featured in the show is Sigalit Landau who presents “O my friends, there are no friends”. Bronze shoes are placed on a pedestal and they are linked by real laces. This is probably the sculpture that is the most often modified by the public. Sometimes, real shoes are added on the structure or the laces are detached. This work was first shown at the Israeli pavilion at the 54e Venice Biennale in 2011. Sigalit Landau studied dance before going to art school and she is well known for performance art such as Deadsee where she locked herself inside a raft of watermelons on the dead sea.
On the work shown on St Helen’s Square, she declared: “It is a commemoration of the 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.” A nice message to the hundreds of people who pass nearby every day.
The programme will end in May 2016 so don’t wait too long to see it. We regularly bring guests to look at each sculpture and discuss it in the wider context of the artist’s body of works. New dates are regularly added on our website or contact us for private tours.