This tall grey lady just outside London City Airport is Athena, and she’s also the tallest bronze sculpture in the UK.
Unveiled in 2012, she’s by the British contemporary artist, Nasser Azam, and was cast in the Zahra Modern Art Foundries, formerly the Morris Singer Art Foundry in Braintree, Essex, which he bought in 2010 to save it from closure.
It’s the same foundry that cast the Trafalgar Square lions, so there’s an indirect link between Athena and the lions.
Although it’s bronze, it’s then been clad in a matt finish so it looks more like it’s made from aluminium than bronze – which is why it’s often a surprise to be told it’s made of Bronze.
Situated on the Connaught Road roundabout at the end of the airport runway, Athena does look a little like she’s directing planes to come into land at the nearby airport. That’s slightly ironic, as the only dissenting voice when Newham Council chose the site for the sculpture, was the airport itself.
It was intended that the sculpture would be lit up by a series of concentric rings, but those were never added.