While we’re thrilled that the capital’s leading art galleries are starting to reopen their doors after the coronavirus lockdown, there are still some of us who would prefer to get our cultural fix in the great outdoors. Luckily, London has unveiled a number of spectacular outdoor art pieces this summer, in every borough of the city. Here’s our pick of the best al fresco offerings to add to your cultural agenda this month.
Heather Phillipson’s ‘The End’ in Trafalgar Square
After being postponed for four months due to the coronavirus pandemic, Heather Phillipson’s much-anticipated design for Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth, the 13th contemporary art commission in the series, has finally been revealed – and it was more than worth the wait.
Comprised of an absurdly large swirl of whipped cream topped by a cherry, a fly and a drone, it’s an arrestingly dystopian piece that seems even more relevant in the wake of the global pandemic – although Phillipson actually came up with the idea in 2016, the year of the EU referendum and Donald Trump winning the US presidential election. At 9.4 metres it’s the tallest plinth commission to date and also the first to be fully accessible, with a braille panel on the plaque and an online audio description.
‘The End’ will be on show until spring 2022; Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London WC2N 5DN
Camille Walala’s ‘The Twins’ in White City Place
White City Place has just unveiled a colourful new addition courtesy of French artist Camille Walala, who’s best known for her joyful murals that appear on the sides of buildings across east London. Made up of two uniquely designed pedestrian crossings and seven striking murals, the eye-catching outdoor artwork features Walala’s signature geometric patterns and bold primary colours.
Entitled ‘Les Jumeaux’ (‘The Twins’), the large-scale public piece is Walala’s first in west London and combines the rich architectural history of the area, which is home to the Television Centre, with Walala’s distinctive playful style, adding a very welcome dose of colour to the surrounding urban landscape.
White City Place, 201 Wood Lane, Shepherd’s Bush, London W12 7FQ
Sculpture in the City
This popular open-air art exhibition is back for its ninth year running. Spread across the City’s Square Mile, it uses the local urban landscape as a rotating gallery for 19 captivating outdoor artworks.
This year’s highlights include ‘Crocodylius Philodendrus’ by Nancy Rubins, an oversized sculpture made up of animal forms that explode into space in different directions, Patrick Tuttofuoco’s ‘The Source’, a neon sculpture of the artist’s hands demonstrating sign language, and Jyll Bradley’s ‘Dutch/Light’, a pavilion activated by light that features two colours – green for the UK and orange for the Netherlands – that act together as an indeterminate liquid flag.
Sculpture in the City will be running until autumn 2020 and is available to view at sites across the Square Mile
Eva Rothschild’s ‘My World and Your World’ in Coal Drops Yard
This major public sculpture in Coal Drop Yard’s Lewis Cubitt Park is Irish artist Eva Rothschild’s first permanent commission in London. Initially scheduled for April 2020, its summer unveiling signals a bold new addition to King Cross’s art scene.
At 16m high, the vast steel sculpture has been made to resemble an inverted tree or lightning bolt – referencing the natural world, it is at once strong and fragile, while its branch-like design enables viewers to move in and around the work. Painted in stripes using Rothschild’s distinctive palette of black, purple, pink, orange, green and red, the artist describes is as a ‘social sculpture’, set to become a space where people will meet, picnic and relax.
Stable Street, King’s Cross, London N1C 4DQ