Outdoor Art

6 must-see outdoor sculpture and art installations in London this autumn

Discover the best al fresco art in the capital this autumn

Frieze Sculpture returns to the city in September, and this year it’s not acting alone. The world-renowned London sculpture show is collaborating with two major public art initiatives – the 11th edition of Sculpture in The City and the Mayor of London’s Fourth Plinth Programme in Trafalgar Square. Together, they will form Sculpture Week London, a city-wide celebration of public art featuring work by 38 artists. So, what better time to celebrate all the new and most compelling outdoor sculpture and art popping up all around London in the coming months? From giant, floating textile works at King’s Cross, to nine cast-iron harpoons piercing a Peckham car park’s rooftop, there’s a lot to be excited about.

Frieze Sculpture 2022
Regent’s Park
14 September - 13 November

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London art stalwart Frieze Sculpture returns for another year, transforming one of the city’s most impressive parks into a massive outdoor London sculpture fair. The vast outdoor exhibition is curated by Yorkshire Sculpture Park Director Clare Lilley for the tenth consecutive year, and will feature 19 celebrated international artists.

With such a wealth of talent on display, Frieze Sculpture will be nothing if not eclectic and wide-ranging. Works by Robert Indiana, John Giorno, John Wood and Paul Harrison, and Tim Etchells are structured as texts, which merge poetry with political messages. Visitors can also see ambitious, colourful, playful and challenging works by artists such as Alicja Kwade, Ugo Rondinone, Beverly Pepper and Ida Ekblad. One thing’s certain: you won’t want to miss this sculptural extravaganza.

Samson Kambalu, Antelope
Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square
From 14 September

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For the last two years, a giant swirl of cream has topped Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth – a cherry, a fly, and a drone scattered across it like morsels on a Mr Whippy. But now it’s time for a change: it’s the end of Heather Philipson’s The End, and the start of a new sculptural display in London’s most iconic square. From this autumn and onwards until 2024, it will be the turn of Antelope, conceived by artist Samson Kambalu.

The work is beautiful and critical, understated and striking all at once. It is a sculpture of a preacher, John Chilembwe, who was murdered in 1915, during a revolt against British colonial rulers in the protectorate of Nyasaland (present-day Malawi). Alongside him and, crucially, half his size, is John Chorley, a European missionary – a simple yet ingenious artistic conceit, which exposes the distortions in conventional narratives of the British empire.

Sheila Hicks, Woven Wonders
Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross
Until 16 October

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American artist Sheila Hicks is renowned for her vast, vibrant and experimental textile sculptures. Her site-specific London sculpture installation at Coal Drops Yard is no different – giant, floating strips of colour are suspended like loose threads above the entire open courtyard, throwing the space into a riot of pattern and texture.

Coinciding with her first UK museum retrospective, Off Grid, at the Hepworth Wakefield, which will run through until 25 September 2022, Woven Wonders is an utterly transformative work in dialogue with the architectural environment, nodding to the Victorian era’s textile industry and the manufacturing age of which Coal Drops Yard was once an integral part.

Love, Bold Tendencies
Peckham Multi-Storey Car Park
Until 17 September

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Walk all the way up one of Peckham’s most iconic and Instagrammable stairways (Barbiecore, eat your heart out), and you’ll find yourself face to face with one of Martin Creed’s most celebrated artworks: a small room in which half of the air is contained within hundreds of coloured balloons. Usually this would be an unlikely end point for a multi-storey car park climb, but this is, of course, no ordinary car park. Founded in 2007, Bold Tendencies created a public space in this disused building, and over 15 years has transformed the site into an experimental civic space, for art, entertainment and undeniably great views.

The Martin Creed is far from the only work on display in Bold Tendencies’ 2022 programme, titled simply Love. There’s a sculpture composed of nine triangular prisms made from African mahogany, by London-based artist Rhea Dillon, and there’s a bright ceramic sculpture with decidedly macabre undertones by rising ceramic star Paloma Proudfoot. Designed in the form of a Late Mediaeval cadaver monument, it includes a lifelike depiction of its subject raised above the effigy of a skeleton or an emaciated dead body. There’s also a bucking bronco (a playful take on love and domination by American artist Gray Wielebinski). So, head to the roofs. You’ll love it.

Es Devlin, Come Home Again
Tate Modern Garden
21 September - 1 October

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Artist and stage designer Es Devlin is known for creating large-scale performative sculptures and environments that fuse music, language, and light, and the work she is presenting in mid-September, opposite St Paul’s, will be no different. The large scale public art work, commissioned by Cartier, is not just a beautiful, illuminated sculpture – though it is certainly aesthetically magnificent. It is also an environmental intervention and a call to attention, highlighting the 243 species on London’s priority conservation list – moths, birds, beetles, wildflowers, fish and fungi.

Devlin’s installation works from the premise that the first step to protecting the biosphere is to pay deep and detailed attention to its inhabitants, both human and non-human. During the day visitors will be able to sit within the illuminated structure’s choral tiers, and each evening at sunset, an interpretation of Choral Evensong will be sung by London-based choral groups within a sliced open scale model of the dome of St Paul’s, combined with the voices of the birds, bats, and insects that also consider London their home.

W1 Curates
Flannels, Oxford Street

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Slap bang in the heart of Oxford Street, the exterior of Flannels London Flagship store has gone through a total transformation, turning it into a giant public exhibition. Using state-of-the-art technology, the display presents artists’ work on 8K LED screens across the iconic flagship store’s facade, 24 hours a day.

W1 Curates has already presented a number of the most innovative artists working today, from Michael Craig Martin and David LaChappelle, to Ming Ling and Remi Rough.  Currently, painter Kingsley Obasi takes up the mantle, with his vivid, yet faintly grotesque paintings lighting up the faces of London’s shoppers.

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