Some artworks take time to absorb fully their significance and this was the case with Michael Lyons sculpture, Centaurus. As a consequence of this, the present gallery run, entitled Sculpture in the City 2016, is described on two separate time scales, the day itself and a few days later from whence I was able to cast my gaze across the City whilst on a separate run and at a greater distance. The inspiration for a critique of this sort was also inspired by the writer Marcel Proust who used the changing distance of a spectator to reveal different truths about an object under mental scrutiny.
Close up, Sculpture in the City is a trail that extends south from the building formerly known as the NatWest tower, and for those who are interested in its design, it displays in its vertical section the logo of the bank. Doubling back at Leadenhall market, one soon arrives at the grand plaza of the Leadenhall Cheesegrater, and then further back one arrives at the plaza of the St Mary’s Axe Gherkin. This doubling back at Leadenhall gives the sculpture trail an overall V shape with the Cheesegrater near the tip.
It was this constellation of three buildings I would see from afar as I jogged round the long curving banks of the Thames a few days later. They formed a slowly rotating compass which would constantly pick out due south thanks to the illumination of a rather vivid red sunset reflecting off the Cheesgrater’s long sloping facade. Thanks also to Michael Lyons sculpture, it would inspire me on my return home to write the present account of the sculpture trail mindful of the fact that some artworks give a delayed reaction to the understanding of their truths.
On the day, Michael Lyon’s sculpture appeared sited on ground level in a plaza close to these iconic buildings. It had a roughly worked steel form and stone plinth and what looked like a gestural curve applied to a horizontal steel bar as a head and which sat atop a thick tapered pole in reference to a neck. It had a presence a bit like a sentinel and its name Centaurus suggested it was distracted by a point or constellation in the southern sky, despite the bright midday sun temporarily obscuring any poetic reference to the stars. Then comes the moment referred to at the beginning of this account, of realisation. The sculpture was actually in alignment with the paving slabs of the plaza and this in turn through the vision of architects, extended to an overall south facing aspect for all the buildings in that little region of the city. Thus from afar I would be looking at London’s Compass as the three buildings of the trail formed a V shaped constellation brought to life by the glowing tip of the foremost building, the Cheesegrater, a compass which would be there in perpetuity for any city visitor henceforth to help them pick out due south and thus guide them on their way.
Centaurus by Michael Lyons. The sculpture faces due south, as do the surrounding buildings, in fact, and is the inspiration for this week’s blog, the London Compass.
Gavin Turk in Sculpture In The City
Huma Bhabha of Stephen Friedman in Sculpture In The City.
William Kentridge of Marian Goodman gallery. The artist has produced a composite portrait of a poverty stricken figure selling coals.
Sarah Lucas of Sadie Coles HQ in Sculpture In The City.
Ugo Rondinone of Sadie Coles HQ in Sculpture In The City.
Lukas Duwenhogger at Raven Row. Exotic symbol-laden paintings.
Giuseppe Penone in Sculpture In The City. Bronze tree with smooth boulders.
Brick Lane activity.
Anthony Caro of Gagosian in Sculpture In The City. Made from additions to a sea floatation tank.