Art & Culture
Follow The Line
Public art, nature trails, light and sound installations – are just a few of the free events and activities that you can enjoy as part of The Line, London’s first outdoor art gallery and public art walk.
Established in 2015, The Line follows the Greenwich Meridian, as it runs between the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the O2, via the Royal Docks. It features an evolving programme from some of the world’s most respected artists including Anish Kapoor (whose sculpture is one of the biggest in the world), Tracey Emin, Gary Hume and Antony Gormley to name a few.
There’s an upside-down electricity pylon (by Alex Chinneck) which has to be seen to be believed.
We are fortunate to have 4 incredible artworks, right here in the Royal Docks:
Bird Boy (without a tail), 2011
The acclaimed sculptor Laura Ford has produced a work that is open to interpretation.
Is the boy we see just a lost boy wearing a bird costume or is there something more sinister at play?
Laura says ‘You feel like the statue is vulnerable – you want to check it out and get closer, but you can’t – so there’s a real sense of isolation… But I do hope people get the humour in it – a boy dressed up as a bird is quite ridiculous.’
Find out more about the mysterious Laura Ford sculpture ‘bird boy’. You can also watch a video of Laura talking about some of the thinking behind the sculpture.
Sanko-time and What I Hear I Keep, 2020
Sanko-time is an audio work from the British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong. It’s been designed to accompany the 20-minute round-trip on the Emirates Air Line cable car from Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks.
Larry says ‘Sanko-time considers the relationship between the Royal Docks and Greenwich, the connecting meridian line, and it’s relationship with Accra – the capital of Ghana.’
Listen to it on your next cable car journey – or play it when you visit The Line in the Royal Docks (https://the-line.org/artist/larry-achiampong/) and look for the What I Hear I Keep flag (on top of the Good Hotel).
What I Hear I Keep is a flag created by British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong. It forms part of a series of Pan African flags that the artist has created to highlight and celebrate African identities.
Achiampong incorporates green, black, and red to reflect the land, the people and the struggles the continent has endured, and yellow-gold colour to represent a new day and prosperity.
The formation of 54 stars represents each of the countries on the African continent, while the chevron shapes allude to the act of sending and receiving messages that resonate.
Destination London, 2021
East London-based artist Anne Hardy has created an illuminating artwork inspired by the areas surrounding London City Airport.
Five layered walls at the airport welcome millions of visitors every year.
Presented as a series of imagined and atmospheric landscapes through a sequence of four large photograms – images made in a darkroom but without a camera, through the manipulation of light and materials on paper.
Anne collected the flora from the grounds of the airport runway itself, as well as from the original dock side and the wild spaces of Bow Creek.
Destination London encapsulates the long history of London as a place of travel, trade and movement through these plants which have made their way here over thousands of years.
‘A lot of seeds get dropped from the planes wheels’ Anne Hardy.
Nature in Mind
This incredible tribute to Madge Gill was curated by Sophie Dutton. Madge lived and worked in Newham for more than 40 years and she created meticulous small-scale and monumental works, skilfully exploring different techniques and formats including paints, inks and textiles.
Find out more about the Madge Gill art in Royal Docks – as well as three others within Newham.
Types of Happiness
Types of Happiness is two 10ft high sculptural chairs, highly coloured with a Dutch wax print-like pattern. Designed by British-Nigerian artist Yinka Ilori, they are part of a collection of six chairs, where the artist explores the sixteen different types of happiness, which include pride, strength, excitement, happiness, calmness and determination. Each of the chairs is ascribed a different type, using the same colours, but in different combinations, to impact experience. The two chairs in the Royal Docks represent happiness and pride.
A self guided tour
A free digital guide is available to accompany people as they explore the three-mile-long route. And it’s not just art, The Line is also a spectacular nature walk, featuring several of London’s greatest waters and industrial heritage sites, such as the Royal Docks.
With the guide, you can experience the walk in the company of Bill Nighy, as the actor takes you on a tour through the hidden histories of the route, from the rivers and canals to Trinity Buoy Wharf and Three Mills.
Or if you’re looking for something a bit different, the guide has a specially commissioned mindfulness guide from London author Tessa Watt, whose walking meditations will bring you closer than ever to your surroundings.
For more information explore The Line through their digital guide on Bloomberg Connects, the free arts and culture app.
Get inspired this February
The Line have also teamed up with IFS Cloud Cable Car this half term, and have created a new activity and resource pack for families and young people, based on the artworks in the Royal Docks and Greenwich Peninsula. You can find the activity pack here
The Royal Docks landscape is a stunning canvas for public and outdoor art. With its vast openness, striking architecture, history, modernity, and close proximity to expanses of water, it provides the space – and breath-taking backdrop for creative expression.
This is why, over the years, we have worked closely with art partners to bring a range of exciting public art projects to life in the area.
Our aim has always been to enrich the area’s cultural heritage and create an environment that inspires local communities and tells the stories of the people who live and work in the area. Partnering with ‘The Line’ has been an incredibly effective and enjoyable way to do this.
The Line is a strategic delivery partner, working collaboratively with the Royal Docks Team to enhance the public realm through ambitious public art projects and complementary engagement programmes.
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