A monumental 18-metre tall statue has appeared in North Greenwich, and frankly, it’s absolutely awful.

It’s actually a piece of art by Damien Hirst that was first shown in Venice, where it stood within a classical building, and was part of a collection telling a fictional tale of an ancient shipwreck.

Looking at it in context surrounded by related art in the classical building, it looked amazing, as if it had stepped straight out of a Ray Harryhausen movie — such as Clash of the Titans or Sinbad.

According to the artist:

“Standing at just over eighteen metres, this monumental figure is a copy of smaller bronze recovered from the wreckage. Ancient Mesopotamian demons were complex primeval creatures that exhibited elements of the human, animal and divine. Embodying a transgressive response to rigid social structures, these hybrid beings could be variously apotropaic, benign and malevolent. One theory posits that the bowl in the demon’s outstretched arm was a vessel used for collecting human blood, conforming to the contemporary perception that demons were universally destructive beings. It seems more likely that the figure served as a guardian to the home of an elite person.”

“The fluidity of the Demon’s hollow, freestanding form is testament to the Babylonian craftsmen’s remarkable dexterity. Bronzes exhibiting a high level of tin, such as this, are in evidence in the region from around 3000 BCE, by which date the lost-wax casting technique had been developed. Whilst cuneiform sources and the attestations of neighbouring Assyrian kings confirm the existence of large-scale bronze sculptures commissioned to adorn palaces and sanctuaries, few remain extant.”

In context, it’s monumental and marvellous.

It’s also now in North Greenwich, where it looks utterly ghastly.

In its new location, as a permanent work of art, it’s akin the sort of monumental artworks favoured by despots and autocrats in former Soviet Union countries or North Korea.

It overwhelms the location, sitting right next to the London Cable Car, and is nearly as tall as the nearby pylon. In fact, so heavy is the 18 metre tall bronze sculpture, that the foundation pile to hold it up had be drilled 24 meters into the ground – its roots are deeper than it is tall.

The development at North Korea Greenwich already has an abundance of fairly awkward public art, as if someone is trying just a bit too hard to buy the biggest baddest art around, and not really thinking about the location or the context it will sit in.

This is shockingly bad though, even by the Pyongyang-esque standards they have set for the area.

I’ve often thought I can look at art I don’t like, but at least appreciate the art for what it is. If it were the same size as the other local artworks, it would be as ugly as they are, but at least it’s easy to ignore.

This though, this is a thing of nightmares.

I feel sorry for the cable car users who now have it greeting them as they arrive in North Greenwich.

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13 comments
  1. NG says:

    So, you’re saying it’s even worse than the ghastly “Angel of the North” ??

    • Stephen Ede-Borrett says:

      I thought it was only me that thought it was a horrendous, and quite amateur, piece of soi-disant art.
      Wonderful to know that I am not in a minority of one!

  2. Dan Coleman says:

    Is it as bad as the clusterf**k of buildings known as the “Design District” though?

  3. CityLover says:

    A bit last of us Corydyceps lol

  4. Mason says:

    Saw this the other weekend, and heard some electronic music playing on loop across the waters from The Tide at North Greenwich. This was during the day, and presumably coming from the Royal Docks side, but what is it? A particularly loud sound art installation, anyone know?

  5. Richard King says:

    It is beyond my understanding as to why all resources, fame and publicity are heaped upon a few ‘artists’,while ignoring 99.9% of others.

  6. Vivienne says:

    On the contrary, I think it is an excellent sculpture with a lot of dynamism. Once the trees grow up around it, it will look better in its surroundings.

  7. Stephen Ede-Borrett says:

    I saw it was by Hirst and knew it would be appalling but now that I have ‘seen’ it I have had that confirmed. Raises two questions to me – 1. Who on earth thought it was a good idea? and 2. Wonder how much it cost?

  8. Robert Newman says:

    If you think this is bad, you should see Damien Hurst’s effort in Ilfracombe. Awful.

    • Lisa says:

      In my opinion it’s not the statue to put middle of the city, museum, art gallery yes. But I felt uncomfortable that my little girls seen it – they actually got scared. And as well I know we live in free and open society. But some norms and morals should be in place. I don’t think that it’s ok for 5-6 yrs old to see a massive headless men with half erected penis.

  9. Mary Mills says:

    Up at Enderby Wharf is an art work which developers were told to put in which reflected the world changing cable works on the site. Its by Bobby LLoyd and is designed provide seating and tell you aboug the cables. The developers ignore it and management let the weeds grow. Its not on any of the trails despite a lot of nagging.
    – we also have funding for a memorial to the gas holders – but ………. but ………..but ………..aargh!

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