A phoenix has appeared near Gallions Reach DLR station in East London as a new public sculpture for the University of East London’s Docklands Campus.

It was commissioned last summer from the Architecture and Visual Arts (AVA) students, who were asked to create a large sculpture to celebrate UEL’s 125th anniversary. Students were challenged to present their designs to the UEL executive board using computer-generated images to showcase their sculptures in situ, coupled with details of what inspired their creations and what materials and methods of production they would use to fabricate the final piece.

The winning design is called ‘Timeless Flight’ and was created by students, Stephanie Stocks, Rafael Ives Ribeiro, Md Tanjir Chowdhury, and Ayodele Victor, supported by the mentorship of tutors, Clare Penny and Nayden Hadzhiev.

The design is said to represent the spirit of learning and pays tribute to UEL’s Coat of Arms, which includes a phoenix, which was included as a reminder of how the UEL’s first building burnt down in 1899 just a year after it opened.

The phoenix has also been adopted as the name of the university’s wheelchair basketball team.

Sitting on a mound outside the UEL’s Docklands Campus, it is candidly not obvious that it’s part of the university, and I assumed it was “random public art” until I started researching.

That said, it’s a pleasing work of art and looks good next to the busy roundabout it sits alongside.

The original plans appear to have intended the already existing grassy mound to be left as a simple grassy slope, but they’ve added a path as well, so you can walk up to and through the middle of the sculpture. People with a childish imagination might snigger that you can walk into the phoenix’s bum. Of course, I would never think such thoughts.

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One comment
  1. Thomas says:

    And there’s me thinking it’s a swan!

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