27 Jan 2021
5 Outdoor Sculptures to see in London Now
We have selected a few of our favourite outdoor sculptures to see around the city.
Whilst galleries and museums around the world are currently shut, there is still plenty of art to see. For those of you in London, we’ve selected a few highlights you might be able to combine with your daily exercise during lockdown in the city. A mixture of recent commissions and works around us that you might have walked past many times without realising, this list is just a small selection of great artworks that it is still possible to see.
Chila Kumari Singh Burman – ‘Remembering A Brave New World’
One for visiting after sunset. Artist Chila Kumari Singh Burman has successfully transformed the Tate Britain’s facade into a vibrant celebration of colour and light. Even from across the river, the Tate Britain can be seen to be glowing with carefully designed neon lights. As an artist, Burman is best known for her feminist artworks, mostly she works with printmaking, installation, film, painting and drawing. Titled ‘Remembering A Brave New World’, Burman’s bright installation is the fourth annual winter commission at Tate Britain, following on from works by artists Monster Chetwynd, Anne Hardy and Alan Kane.
Burman’s design embodies the Indian Diwali festival, which runs alongside it, celebrating the triumph of light over darkness. As we experience shorter, colder days, the bright neon lights penetrate the winter darkness we face at the moment. Burman’s facade visually offers pure joy, remembering struggles of the past in hope for a brighter future. This uplifting installation is on until the 31 January.
Heather Phillipson – ‘The End’
‘The End’ by artist Heather Phillipson is the most recent sculpture to stand on the Fourth Plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square. Although it was delayed by months due to the pandemic, the artwork is finally up for visitors to see. A large swirled dollop of cream, a gleaming cherry, a drone and a fly make up Phillipson’s spectacular piece. On top of the artwork’s polished appearance, the drone balanced on the sculpture is rigged with a camera which records it’s audience.
Since it’s launch in 1998, the Fourth Plinth has become an annual commission. It is a literal platform for diverse and politically charged commissions. Each commission often addresses contemporary issues and this rings true of Phillipson’s current piece. All in all, she has provoked thought on the current contemporary culture of surveillance in this almost apocalyptic piece. ‘The End’ is on view on the Fourth Plinth until Spring 2022.
Barbara Hepworth – ‘Winged Figure’
This is one that you may have walked past may times without noticing. In central London, artist Barbara Hepworth’s ‘Winged Figure’ adorns the side of the John Lewis department store on Oxford Street. The radical and tender sculpture is a characteristic of her particularly vast body of work. In contrast, ‘Winged Figure’ is made up of two expansive asymmetric wings, that rise from a plinth. Both halves of the set of wings are conjoined by delicate metal poles that simultaneously criss cross to a single point on the beautiful structure.
The scale and majestic qualities of Hepworth’s piece are definitely not lost, particularly amongst the bustle of the London’s busiest shopping street. Hepworth’s ‘Winged Figure’ has been on show, on the side of a department store, since 1963. During the current pandemic, this sculpture in particular provokes us to look up as we walk through the city.
Henry Moore – ‘Knife Edge Two Piece’
For our next sculpture to see in London, artist Henry Moore’s 1962 ‘Knife Edge Two Piece’ sits in London’s Parliament Square. In this particular example, Moore created curved and elegant shapes which are comprised of two bronze forms, standing parallel to one another. As you walk around the piece, importantly, Moore ensures the visuals change rapidly. Equally important, Moore creates sharp edged narrow forms that elevate upwards, piercingly reaching for the sky.
Moore gives a ceremonious quality to this sculpture. Simultaneously, over time the sculpture has become a monument in parliamentary surroundings. Important to note, the original inspiration for the piece, was based on the contrast of lightness and strength in bones. Additionally, Moore’s ‘Knife Edge Two Piece’ also harks to the rock formations he has often taken visuals from in his work. As well as this piece, Parliament Square is also home to French artist Auguste Rodin’s 1884–95 The Burghers of Calais. The sculpture, in essence, represents freedom from oppression and voices the story of the 1347 siege of Calais.
Gillian Wearing – ‘Statue of Millicent Fawcett’
Artist Gillian Wearing’s 2018 ‘Statue of Millicent Fawcett’ is the first statue of a woman to be erected in Parliament Square. In many ways, this important sculpture stands in contrast to her famously playful video and photography work. The remarkable bronze sculpture depicts a realistic portrayal of the Suffragist leader. Visibly, there is a nod to Wearing’s 1993 photographic series ‘Signs‘ in her inclusion of the sign Fawcett holds. It powerfully reads ‘Courage Calls to Courage Everywhere’.
The bronze sculpture depicts Fawcett during her time of prominence in 1907. At the time she was the president of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. Fawcett had campaigned endlessly in her adult life. Furthermore she negotiated on behalf of all women within Parliament on countless occasions. With this in mind, artist Maggi Hambling recently unveiled her statue of the writer, philosopher and advocate of women’s rights; Mary Wollstonecraft. Although Hambling’s portrayal has polarised opinion amongst critics.
Unframe Artists working with outdoor sculpture…
Rachel Duckhouse – ‘Edinburgh Printmakers Entrance Gates’
Unframe artist Rachel Duckhouse primarily works in printmaking and drawing. However, in 2019 she was commissioned to design the entrance gates to Edinburgh Printmakers, a printing and visual arts centre in Scotland. Her intricate designs for the gates were based on research on the whole into the history of the North British Rubber Company. Finally, using archival material, Duckhouse made drawings based on the rounded forms and patterns of rubber making machinery.
Her work is predominantly research based, therefore using archives to make her work continues this. Ultimately, in this work she draws visual parallels between rubber making and print making. The gates depict cylindrical and undulating shapes evidently illustrating the repetitive action of rolling. Duckhouse is dedicated to themes of repetition, layering, architectural structure, as well as patterning in her work. As well as this, Rachel’s work was shortlisted for the Working Drawing Award section of the TBW Drawing Prize. She exhibited sketchbook images from an ongoing commissioned project.
This is a permanent commission and is available to see in Edinburgh right now.
Please adhere to current governmental guidelines if you are planning to see any of these works.