ArtMan: London - the free gallery

Start peeling back the blinkers; there’s great free art on London’s streets, but some is hard to find.  Art Consultant Kevin Wilson shows us where.

London is a piñata full of art. Bash it in the right place and you see great art tumbling out.

Most of us rush around the capital from A to Starbucks to B without realising we are passing great artworks that have been commissioned and thoughtfully and often thankfully glued onto the streets. 

Historically, public art in London was in the form of the commemorative, often deadly-dull statue. Fine if that’s your thing or you can relate to the figure but often the chunks of heavy people sit in their location and are lost through familiarity or blandness.

Of course pubic art by its nature is contentious, whenever and wherever an artist places a work of art in the public realm everyone turns into Brian Sewell and strong opinions fly…and so they should.  After all London belongs to all of us.

In the last few decades public art has run sideways from the commemorative sculpture and we now have the introduction of splashes of creative genius that polka dot the capital.   Some critics would say the polka dotting is akin to creative acne, but consider the alternative; take away the new wave of artworks and what do we have, same old streets or more of the figurative blobs. 

Our new artwork helps make London unique.

Amazing things are now happening down on the streets. Greyworld, are a London-based group of artists that create public art for spaces around the world. Their work is a huge gale of fresh air.

Their work Monument to the Unknown Artist appears to be a simple bronze statue. However the six meter monument isn’t what it seems. You strike a pose and he copies.. yes really.  Greyworld employ state of the art animatronics which smoothes the robot sculpture into a performing mime artist which copies your every move.  If you can’t see it in the flesh, check out the wonder here.

You can find the sculpture permanently installed alongside Tate Modern on the Southbank.

Monument to the Unknown Artist

Source: ©Greyworld

Monument to the Unknown Artist

Monument to the Unknown Artist

Source: ©Greyworld

Monument to the Unknown Artist

Monument to the Unknown Artist

Source: ©Greyworld

Monument to the Unknown Artist

Another Greyworld artwork in London is much more of a hidden find. Secretly located around Spitalfields ( that’s the nearest clue you get ) is a set of railings that have been finely tuned to ‘play’ The Girl From Ipanema if you run a stick along them.  So get yourself a stick and start running it down railings. But don’t run that madly around Spitalfields with a stick or it may go horribly wrong.

 Look out for more of their work popping up in London, there’s something special planned  to pop up in Central London towards the end of January. .. another secret!

The Girl From Ipanema railings, Greyworld

Source: ©Greyworld

The Girl From Ipanema railings, Greyworld

Light years away from the traditional figurative sculpture is the introduction of light sculpture onto our streets. Is it art or design? Who cares, when it’s at its best it is amazing and can transform spaces into ..spaceships. 

One of my fave examples of a transformed space in London is the geometric, colour changing masterpiece by Maurice Brill Lighting.

This award winning artwork changes the colour of Finsbury Avenue Square, Broadgate near Liverpool Street station. It slides into sherbet like colours as you walk across the wide expanse, a mood changer, a touch Tron the movie, but I never tire of the impact it makes.

Maurice Brill Lighting, Finsbury Avenue Square

Source: Maurice Brill Lighting

Maurice Brill Lighting, Finsbury Avenue Square

Maurice Brill Lighting, Finsbury Avenue Square

Source: Maurice Brill Lighting

Maurice Brill Lighting, Finsbury Avenue Square

Maurice Brill Lighting, Finsbury Avenue Square

Source: Maurice Brill Lighting

Maurice Brill Lighting, Finsbury Avenue Square

Maurice Brill Lighting, Finsbury Avenue Square

Source: Maurice Brill Lighting

Maurice Brill Lighting, Finsbury Avenue Square

Tucked away in Regents Place just north of Euston Road sits a tubular steel light structure that turns into a light temple at night. Architectural practice Carmody Groarke have created this modern day shrine to light. Walking among the 8m high steel tubes you enter a modern day maze, a place to  stand and ponder.  Look up and get religious it’s a modern day stairway to heaven.

Carmody Groarke

Source: Carmody Groarke

Carmody Groarke

Carmody Groarke

Source: Carmody Groarke

Carmody Groarke

Carmody Groarke

Source: ©AndyMatthews

Carmody Groarke

I will be throwing out occasional columns highlighting creative sparklers in London that you can keep your eyes open for, aim being to get you all to turn your heads from side to side occasional when zooming around the streets and appreciate how artists and designers can make our city a more exciting place… stay tuned.

Kevin Wilson is an international arts consultant, curator and collector. He advises on collections, investments and projects. His clients range from the historical royal palaces, international corporations, to private individuals and collections worldwide. He is also the Director of Artpoint the public art agency

www.kwart.co.uk  www.artpointtrust.org.uk 

twitter.com/ArtpointInfo

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