The 12th annual walking trail looking for public art in the City of London has returned with a mix of new and previous artworks dotted around the City.

Although mainly sculptures, there are a couple of commissions of painted art as well this year, and it’s also their most international collection yet with 17 artists from 10 countries providing sculptures to go on display.

For the 2023 show, nine new artworks, some monumental in scale, are joining seven sculptures retained from last year, as well as two permanent acquisitions.

In total 447 artworks were submitted to be considered for the display, being whittled down to the 18 that you can find when walking around the City.

As with most art, sometimes they work really well, sometimes a bit meh, and quite often, the explanations provided by the artists are baffling. I still have no idea how a very enjoyable to look at a bright red replica of an old grain store is supposed to make us think of racism. It’s a lovely piece of art, which was also on display last year, but the justification is beyond anything any reasonable person could accept.

Elsewhere though, the “cock on a rock” is charming, but already provoking bets as to how long the cock will remain in situ, although a wall mural looks rather like it’s a leftover from a building site.

A white sculpture near Liverpool Street looks like a three-dimensional Picasso painting, while a couple of marble stones nearby apparently, at the right time, catch the sunlight in just the right way to cast a beam of light through a hole in the stone.

The joky memorial benches are now a permanent addition to London’s streets, which adds a playful sense to the city.

Previous Sculpture in the City displays seems to have been brighter and bolder, and more playful. This year’s art seems maybe as if they’re trying a bit too hard to be clever, with some pretty convoluted artist descriptions.

Public art should be more fun and less headache.

It might be better in fact not to read the art descriptions unless you’re carrying some headache pills as I strongly suspect the artist came up with a sculpture and was then asked afterwards to think of some text to explain it.

It’s still worth following the trail though as walking trails are an excellent way of wandering around places and discovering new spots in the city to explore.

The walking trail for Sculpture in the City will be in place until spring 2024.

There is a map on their website, but be aware that it misses most of the memorial bench artworks, but those are listed on the maps that you can find next to each sculpture.


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