Next up in the drive to integrate the Olympic site with the rest of London is a new sculpture walk, stretching from the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park to North Greenwich, via the O2 stadium. The four mile-long, $3m project is the brainchild of a group of heavy hitters from the worlds of art and cities: artist Mark Wallinger, art dealer Megan Piper, and town planner Clive Dutton.
The trio dreamed up the scheme as a means to bring large pieces of public art wasting away in storage or private collections to public consciousness, and jazz up a somewhat neglected part of the city at the same time.
Wallinger told the Evening Standard that he was keen to highlight the history of London’s docks and the surrounding area, especially now they’re drawing more visitors thanks to the DLR and Olympic sites:
It’s a spectacular route, taking in an industrial heritage that people don’t know about. Access to these waterways has been obstructed or obscured for far too long. There’s something very addictive about this route: I’ve walked it a few times.
The Line received backing from the Mayor last year, and follows in the tradition of the 4th plinth initative in Trafalgar Square: modern, challenging artists displaying in public spaces. Featured artists include Martin Creed, Antony Gormley, Damian Hirst and Abigail Fallis.
While the project is undoubtedly publicly minded, to say it’s high concept would be a bit of an understatement. The row of sculptures is dotted along the Greenwich meridian (“The Line”, geddit?), while the sculpture walk’s logo doubles as a map:
Click for a larger image. Image: The Line.
Annoyingly, the route doesn’t exactly function as a single walking path. As London blogger Diamond Geezer notes:
One important thing about The Line is that it’s not a line. It might have been, if only a footpath existed all the way down the Lea to the Thames, but nobody’s ever managed to make that happen. Instead the official route follows the Lea for two miles, then hops on the DLR to the Royal Docks, then rides the cablecar to follow the Thames round the O2. There are four sculptures in each of these three clusters, requiring a multi-modal trek to see the lot, the end result anything but linear.
Those cross-hatched sections on the map above denote sections of the route that you can’t complete by foot.
Here are a few of the pieces currently on show:
Damian Hirst’s “Sensation”. Yes, that is a cross-section of a piece of human skin.
Stering Ruby’s “Consolidator”, which has the honour of flanking the Emirates Air Line.
Martin Creed’s “Work No 700” blends in admirably with the surrounding dock infrastructure.
Eduardo Palozzi’s 15-foot “Vulcan”, named after the god of fire and metalwork.
The walk is free to visit: it relies on visitor donations via the Canal River Trust. Go wild.
All images: The Line.
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