The Line Sculpture Trail, 4th August

With the galleries on summer holiday, I decided to check out The Line sculpture trail. Its collection of artworks are embedded along two geographic landmarks that by happy coincidence lie superimposed upon one another. They are the River Lea and the Greenwich Meridian line. The eponymous Line sculpture trail is rather less fluent than the physical landmarks it follows due in part to tight bows near the mouth of the River Lea and accompanying industrial estates.

An Oyster card is useful too since another major obstacle to the Line is the Thames itself. Whilst the first batch of sculptures lie on the south side of the river the rest need to be stitched together by a ride across the Thames on the Emirates cable car. After a surprisingly exciting “flight”, the route planners have then urged the adventurer to take the DLR and resume on foot after a short journey by train. But I hot-foot it through the industrial estates and rejoin The Line further north. A river path has appeared and the Lea has become navigable again to the casual stroller.

Along this stretch of the river I see a sculpture by Damien Hirst identifiable by its cartoony style. It is a painted bronze about the size and shape of a saloon car. Small blue and red circles punctuate its surface in pairs and have been clearly articulated from the day they were cast in the original monochrome bronze. They represent blood vessels close to the surface of the skin and add a sensation of visceral reality to the giant biological machine of which they are part. Other vessels are rendered too in an extended palette of colours which try through their clarity to emulate the strange alphabet of the book of life. Sweat glands, hairs and shunts that cool the skin are all present and speak of their function with the clarity of a medical textbook illustration.

This mass of bronze mimics no more than a slither of skin but it is brought to life by the bright colours and remind me of a fabulous slice of trifle. I graciously receive this generous offering and tuck into yet another of the courses that have been served up today! The layers are stepped on their upper surface adding a further sense of grandeur to their scale. But like those classical depictions of vanities that have a skull or some other device to remind us of our own mortality, thick black hairs sit atop the spectacle, and upset any further sense of appetitive fulfilment. They are curved as though caught momentarily by a delicate breeze drawn off the surface of the nearby river. And it is along this river that the next item of the trail lies, a spiral DNA structure fashioned from shopping trolleys, somehow commenting on our most recent mutation that has come to characterise the first part of the 21st century, our transformation into shopaholics.

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Emirates Air Line which forms a vital link crossing the Thames for The Line sculpture trail.

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Opposite larger than life bronze contemporary figure with its own smart phone by Thomas J Price on The Line sculpture trail.

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Carsten Holler of Gagosian joins his spiral tube slide to the spiral tower of Anish Kapoor of Lisson Gallery.

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Antony Gormley of White Cube showing Quantum Cloud on The Line sculpture trail.

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Richard Wilson RA produced Slice of Reality, the title being visible on a life ring on board. The Line sculpture trail.

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Sterling Ruby of Spruth and Magers and Gagosian produced this angular canon-like form. He paid particular attention to the spray paint whose code is displayed in welded lettering on the base. The Line sculpture trail.

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Damien Hirst of White Cube on The Line sculpture trail. The painted bronze sculpture imitates a few cubic millimetres of skin.

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Gary Hume of David Zwirner gallery with brass leg-like forms on The Line sculpture trail.

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Abigail Fallis on The Line sculpture trail. Shopping trolleys imitate structural molecules in a DNA spiral. The poppies were growing round the concrete base.

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