Visit London Blog » keith coventry Enjoy the very best of London Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:00:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sculpture in the City Wed, 19 Jun 2013 16:42:30 +0000 Robert Indiana 'LOVE' (1966)  © Morgan Art Foundation Artists Right Socienty (ARS) New York - DACS London Robert Indiana 'NUMBERS' (1980) © Morgan Art Foundation Artists Right Socienty (ARS) New York - DACS London Robert Indiana 'NUMBERS' (1980)  2 © Morgan Art Foundation Artists Right Socienty (ARS) New York - DACS London Jake and Dinos Chapman 'The Good','The Bad' and 'The Ugly' Photo by Ellie Roddy. Jake & Dinos Chapman 'The Good' 'The Bad' and 'The Ugly' (2007) © the artist Antony Gormley Parallel Field (2002) Shirazeh Houshiary 'String Quintet' (2011) © the artist; Photo - Robb Mcrean Ryan Gander 'More Really Shiny Things That Don't Mean Anything' Photo by Ellie Roddy. Ryan Gander 'More Really Shiny Things That Don't Mean Anything' 2 (2011) Keith Coventry 'Bench' (1996) and 'Mare Street E8' © The artist coutesy Pace Gallery Photo - Rob Mcrean Richard Wentworth 'Twenty-Four Hour Flag' (1992) © the artist Richard Wentworth 'Twenty-Four Hour Flag' (1992) [Hiscox Bldg

A number of sculptures have been erected as part of Sculpture in the City 2013. I went up to the slightly dizzying heights of the 27th floor of Tower 42 and looked down on the heart of the City where they are situated.

We could see chairs appearing to fall off the roof of one of the buildings below, but this was to be explained later as we headed back to the ground for a tour from Sonia Solicari, head of Guildhall Art Gallery, who suggested pieces for the project.

This project shows the importance of art and culture in the economic and social life of London. Located in the dramatic surroundings of the eastern high-rise cluster, an area which sits so close to cultural areas such as Shoreditch yet is dominated by tall buildings and businesspeople. These sculptures work to enrich the streets and enliven public spaces for workers, residents and visitors alike.

The third year of this free outdoor exhibition sees the largest line-up yet, with nine contemporary art installations by world famous artists. First we were taken to the iconic Love sculpture by Robert Indiana. This sculpture, which can be found in cities throughout the world, works as an entrance to the sculpture site. This is the first of two pieces of work by Indiana, as round the corner sits his number sculpture, One Through Zero.

Next we headed to the base of the Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe) where pre-historic creatures now roam. This piece by Jake & Dinos Chapman, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, features three dinosaurs. The creatures are large, up to eight metres in length and seven metres high, but appear dwarfed by the architecture of city.

As you walk along the pavement Antony Gormley’s leaning human figures, Parallel Field, will become part of the crowd, and next to this five spiralling stainless steel ribbons unravel from the ground forming String Quintet, created by Shirazeh Houshiary. Just around the corner sits Ryan Gander’s large and sparkling, More Really Shiny Things that Don’t Mean Anything. This piece has already attracted a lot of attention – so definitely one not to miss! Beside this are two pieces by Keith Coventry; Bench and Mare Street, E8. These pieces were created from a disused bench and decaying sapling off the streets of East London.

Finally, the piece I found most interesting were the chairs which we had earlier looked down on from above. Now looking up at them, Richard Wentworth’s Twenty-Four Hour Flag features several red chairs jutting out the top of the Hiscox Building. The intent is to encourage people to look up, as he once said “The best place in cities is the skyline. It’s where ‘we’ meet ‘nature’. Look up!” The artist has subverted the intended use, but interestingly Sonia pointed out chairs are seen as meeting spaces at all levels as you look through the windows of surrounding offices.  

The sculptures will be officially unveiled on 20 June, and remain for one year. Pick up a leaflet and take yourself on a guided tour – otherwise don’t forget to look out for them as you walk around the City of London.

For more information visit the City of London website

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High Society at the Wellcome Collection Thu, 11 Nov 2010 15:00:12 +0000

Today a new exhibition opens at the Wellcome Collection looking at drugs. High Society is a typical show for the Wellcome: attending a preview yesterday, I found the idiosyncratic splicing of art, literature, medicine, social history and anthropology I’ve come to expect from the institution.

High Society’s claim is that every society is a high society: your early morning coffee is no different to drinking kava in the Pacific, chewing betel nuts in Asia, or coca leaves in the Andes. Time and geography produce different substances, but the use of drugs in society is universal, everyday, and stretches back through history.

And the very first display case sets the scene perfectly. Alongside a crude 21st-century crack pipe is an intricately carved pair of betel nut cutters from 19th-century India, and Chilean trays for hallucinogenic snuff dating back as far as 400AD.

Later, you can see an opium ball, about the same size as a baby’s head, from the 19th century; Mervyn Peake’s Caterpillar illustration from “Alice in Wonderland”; and bronze crack-pipe sculptures by Keith Coventry. There’s syringes, laudanum bottles, photos of magic mushrooms, NHS pamphlets for parents worried about drugs. And work by Dante Gabriel Rosetti, the original manuscripts of Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas de Quincey, a note on Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes craving “mental exultation” and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Kubla Khan.

Highlights for me included the incredibly modern-looking lithograph “Morphinomane” from 1897 by Eugène Grasset: pain and anguish stretch through the girl’s face as she drives a needle into her thigh. Delightfully silly is a coloured aquatint entitled “Doctor and Mrs Syntax with a party of friends, experimenting with laughing gas”. Tracey Moffat’s hauntingly bleak “Laudanum” series of big, black and white photographs certainly make an impression. And the Joshua Light Show by Joshua White makes for a delightfully trippy museum moment.

Altering one’s mental state is a universal impulse, the exhibition suggests. The following sections, dedicated to Apothecary to Laboratory (tracing the history of early folk remedies to the garden shed where Alexander Shulgin made MDMA, or ecstasy), Collective Intoxication (looking at communal drug taking), and The Drugs Trade (mainly examining the Opium Wars) seeks to gently alter your state of mind about drugs as a whole.

Later, placing Prohibition posters alongside what modern society deems to be “harder” or “illegal” drugs poses many questions. The final section, called  A sin, a crime, a vice or a disease? after a quote by the British doctor Norman Kerr in 1884, doesn’t seek to find answers, and you’re sure to leave this thought-provoking exhibition with the issues High Society raises whirling in your mind.

High Society is at the Wellcome Collection until 27 February. Look out for the brilliant-sounding High Society Events Programme. More exhibits from the show can be see on The Guardian website.

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