Sculpture in the City, the City of London's programme of public outdoor artworks around some of the capital's most famous spaces, has launched its tenth edition.
Among the 18 contemporary artists showing their work in the Square Mile are Laure Prouvost, Guillaume Vandame, Alice Channer, Eva Rothschild, Mark Handforth, Laura Arminda Kingsley and Rosanne Robertson, and many others.
Spanning St Botolph without Bishopsgate to Fenchurch Street Station Plaza, Leadenhall Market to Mitre Square, the annual event aims to offer audiences easy access to experiencing contemporary art to encourage people to engage with their immediate environment.
Among the highlights of the 2021 edition are Guillaume Vandame's symbols (2019-2021) in Leadenhall Market. The installation consists of 30 unique flags from the LGBTQ+ community, spanning the original Pride Flag designed by Gilbert Baker in San Francisco in 1978 to the iteration by Daniel Quasar in 2018, which has received mixed feedback – especially among the design community.
Vandame's work aims to represent the "diversity of gender, sexuality, and desire today" and acts as a nice continuation of his previous Sculpture in the City works: back in 2019, he led Notice Me (LGBTQIA+ Walk), a participatory artwork which took the form of "a peaceful walk among LGBTQIA+ individuals of all ages and backgrounds as well as queer allies seeking to support the cause of equality and free love." Participants were invited to dress in one of the seven colours of the LGBTQIA+ community rainbow, and the walk itself underscored the inherent diversity of the sculptures themselves along the walk's route.
Elsewhere in this year's event, Isabella Martin's Keeping Time (2019) by Isabella Martin "describes a perception of time as being inseparable from our environment," using moving water as a unit of measure; while Elisa Artesero's The Garden of Floating Words (2017) remains on show from the 2019 edition of Sculpture in the City in a pedestrianised space outside 70 St Mary Axe. The piece takes the form of a neon poem that "appears to float" in the dark of night.
While they're very much presented in the thick of the urban environment, many of the pieces on show reference nature, both thematically and formally. The contortions of Mark Handforth's Harlequin Four (2019) are said to "recall the wreckage caused by the forces of nature and by humans," for instance.
Meanwhile, Laura Arminda Kingsley's Murmurs of the Deep (2021) "invites viewers to immerse themselves in a freer, wilder pictorial world, in which our communion with the cosmos and nature is unmediated by cultural valuations or static ideas of identity." Her large-scale vinyl artwork was selected from Sculpture in the City's Open Call for a 2D artwork and will be displayed on the underside of the escalators leading up to the Leadenhall Building (better known as The Cheesegrater) in a first for Sculpture in the City.
Next month, Sculpture in the City will reflect on all ten editions, as well as look to the future in an outdoor public exhibition opening on 16 July in Aldgate Square that will celebrate highlights from artworks shown across the past decade. The exhibition will also include the five shortlisted artist proposals for the first Aldgate Square Commission, a new biannual commission to support emerging artists in the UK, which launched last year and which will result in two new public artworks to be exhibited in Aldgate Square in 2022 and 2023 respectively.