ArcelorMittal Orbit – Anish Kapoor, 2012
The country’s largest sculpture was commissioned after an open call for artist submissions to coincide with the 2012 Olympics. This enormous structure features a viewing deck and the world longest slide, designed by the German artist Carsten Höller, who is known for his interest in the concept of play. This unusual addition was added after construction, at the request of Kapoor, and has turned this work of art into a hugely successful tourist attraction.
The Line Public Art Walk
This modern and contemporary art walking tour follows the waterways of East London, featuring works by prolific artists such as Damien Hirst, Antony Gormley and Martin Creed. The trail covers Greenwich Peninsula, the Royal Docks and the River Lea, and is constantly evolving with new works and projects.
Traffic Light Tree – Pierre Vivant, 1995-8
Featuring 75 sets of traffic lights it may look like the world’s worst junction, but is actually the work of artist Pierre Vivant. This flamboyant public installation was originally unveiled in Westferry, before being found a new home in Canary Wharf. The flashing lights are designed to reflect the ‘never ending rhythm of the surrounding domestic, financial and commercial activities’ but have often incited complaints from drivers who find it thoroughly baffling.
Fulcrum – Richard Serra, 1987
Richard Serra is known for his gargantuan sculptures, but this piece is especially remarkable because it fits in a relatively small space while still maintaining a mammoth presence, as it towers into the sky. To passers-by it might seen that the structure has seen better days, but it is actually made from a special non-degenerative steel that builds rust, but does not decay. The name means ‘to balance’ and the five enormous sheets of metal do appear to be precariously leaning against each other, as if they could topple at any moment.
I Goat – Kenny Hunter, 2010
At the entrance to Spitalfields market you can find this unusual depiction of a goat standing on a pile of crates. The work won the inaugural Spitalfields Sculpture Prize in 2010 and recalls the rich industrial history of the area, as well as using the image of a stubborn animal to represent the area’s non-conformist attitude.
Couple on a Seat – Lynn Chadwick, 1984
Lynn Chadwick worked as an architectural draftsman before he took up sculpture following the end of the Second World War. He began to produce pieces featuring couples later in his career, as a testament to enduring, universal love – many of which are now on public display around the world. This work was part of the Talking Statues project in 2014, where actors were invited to perform fictitious narratives written from the perspective of the sculptures.
Squeaky Clean – Gary Webb, 2012
This bizarre colourful playground was commissioned as part of Frieze Projects East, an initiative designed to bring interactive sculpture to the newly built Olympic Park. The work features colourful organic forms cast from resin and steamed wood, which have been used to adorn modular, everyday leisure equipment. Unsurprisingly the bright colour palette and Flintstones style aesthetics have made the work a huge hit with local children.