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Study visit to Canary Wharf art & sculpture trail - The Open College of the Arts
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Study visit to Canary Wharf art & sculpture trail

Join OCA’s Gerald Deslandes on the 15 September in London.
Since its creation in the 1990s Canary Wharf has been synonymous with the regeneration of east London and with ambitious architectural, commercial and corporate projects. Its 16 million square feet of office and retail space includes landmark buildings such as Cesar Pelli’s One Canada Square and Norman Foster’s cavernous Canary Wharf Underground station. This study visit will test out Foster’s famous dictum that most public art is like ‘putting lipstick on a gorilla’ through a walk around more than 50 bought or commissioned art pieces on the site.
The collection ranges from older pieces of figurative sculpture by Henry Moore and Lynn Chadwick to Ron Arad’s soaring carbon fibre column Windwand, which until recently was the tallest sculpture in the world and is the same height as many of the surrounding buildings. Since 1998 the Canary Wharf Group has been commissioning works by well-known artists such as Tony Cragg, Keith Milow and Catherine Yass as well as by less familiar practitioners, many of whom have responded the nature or history of the site or to its dramatic location along the bank of the Thames. Among the former are Andrew Burton whose Chimney, a traditional brick-built column, is in deliberate contrast to the sleek glass and steel buildings around it, and Keith Rand, whose Original Form in Douglas Fir mimics the skills used by traditional local boat-builders. Close by are Konstantin Grcic’s Six Public Clocks, which comprises six out-size versions of the ubiquitous Swiss railway design and is a reminder both of busy commuter schedules and of the relevance of international date-lines to the resident banking community. There are numerous pieces that combine functional and decorative elements including planters and gates by Tatiana Orloff and Katy Hackney. There is also street furniture created by designer-makers such as Giuseppe Lund and by practitioners such as Bruce McLean who are more associated with fine-art.

The combination of outdoor pieces with indoor works – some of which use photography, textiles, glass and ceramics – makes the walk suitable for all but the most inhospitable of weathers. In the morning we shall look at the exterior sculpture and architecture including the new Cross Rail station, which is due to be opened in the autumn. After lunch we shall visit the indoor pieces and temporary exhibitions on site.
The Canary Wharf Art Programme is available to the public without charge and most of the works including those in the foyers of corporate buildings can be visited between 10am and 5pm on weekdays and weekends. A map of the site can be found here. Accessibility information can be found here.
15 September 11.00 – 15.00
Tutor: Gerald Deslandes
11.00 Meet: Starbucks, South Colonnade, Canary Wharf, London E14 4QT
11.30 – 13.00 Outdoor Walk around Architecture and Sculpture
13.00 – 14.00 Lunch at café on site or, if you prefer, bring a picnic
14.00 – 15.00 Continuation of the above and visit to indoor exhibitions
The study visit will go ahead whatever the weather but if on the 12 September the weather forecast predicts heavy rain, further information or alternative plans will be sent out by email to students who have signed up on that day.
To request a place on a study visit/event please click here and complete the form. Please note there is a non-refundable* £10 booking fee for this study visit.
*If the event is cancelled – refunds will be issued.
Henry Moore: Draped Seated Woman, 1957-58 | bronze | Cabot Square (exterior)
Katy Hackney: Willoughby Passage Gate, 1999 | stainless steel | Willougby Passage (exterior*)

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Posted by author: Joanne
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2 thoughts on “Study visit to Canary Wharf art & sculpture trail

  • I visited the site in August on a very hot day. I would recommend that you print off the sculpture trail as I was unable to pick up an leaflets. The Docklands Museum printed me a hard copy. If not that saved on smart phone would be useful.

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