There’s a giant rusty nail in the City of London, and yes, it’s art. It’s also something I must have walked past hundreds of times without noticing, as it’s remarkably easy to assume is just part of the building it’s next to – until you look up.

Oh, it’s a nail. A really big nail.

It was put here, rather than hammered into the ground in 2011, and is the first permanent outdoor commission by Gavin Turk.

The nail, with a slight tilt, was made in Turk’s studio in Limehouse from bronze with an iron-oxidised surface, and was described at the unveiling as partly a nostalgic tribute to a “tiny tool” in a property development “which probably contains no nails at all”.

You can read a lot of meaning into the nail, as while it’s next to the One New Change shopping centre, it’s also right in front of St Paul’s Cathedral, so could be one of the nails from the crucifixion.

Indeed, I was taking a photo of the cathedral when I noticed there was a big nail in my photo. And um, looking back at one of my favourite photos of the cathedral from that spot, yes, the nail is there. It’s been a lurking presence in my photos all these years and I never noticed.

While I am partially embarrassed to have never noticed a 12-metre tall giant nail stuck in the ground that’s been there for over a decade, it’s also a reminder that we can still be delighted by random wanderings around places we think we know so very well.

Reportedly, when Jamie Oliver had a restaurant next to the sculpture, he described it as “the kebab”.

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3 comments
  1. MilesT says:

    You can also find rusty nails in any high end hotel cocktail bar or artisan cocktail bar.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rusty_nail_(cocktail)

    Very “old school”, not too hard to make at home, or indeed onsite at the sculpture as long as public drinking is allowed (have a Rusty nail party at the Rusty Nail).

  2. Lan says:

    I’ve stood right next to this so many times waiting for my children……and never noticed it once ! 🤦🏻‍♂️
    Thanks for pointing it out, next time I’ll be sure to notice it now ! (I’ll probably forget 😆)

  3. Mike Kay says:

    I’m slightly embarrassed too -how could I have missed it?

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