It was a cold misty January morning and a few brave souls ventured to a corner that appears to be one of Stratford’s best-kept secrets – Lothar Götz’s ‘Porte de Couleur’ at Lend Lease’s new development Glasshouse Gardens in the International Quarter, which even the concierge in Glasshouse Gardens had to look up in the internet to find although it was immediately behind him. While its location is at an entry to the Olympic Park, it is one of the harshest and most uninviting for pedestrians, though it does sit on an axis to Anish Kapoor’s controversial ArcelorMittal Orbit and to Zaha Hadid’s masterful Aquatic Centre.
Organised by London Art Fair, Domo Baal of the gallery Domobaal explained the background to this public art commission by Lothar Götz and the constraints related to health & safety, durability and maintenance which had to be incorporated into Götz’s colourful, geometric concept which was constructed before the landscaping was designed, which does seem to have been a missed opportunity to integrate the two.
An admirable commission – but you do feel that the Olympic Legacy and Lend Lease could do more to promote their art commissions, as is done at Broadgate and Canary Wharf for example.
From there, it was fascinating to visit the two nearby studios of Lothar Götz himself and of Neil Zakiewicz, in two different developments where, to the credit of the planning authorities, two floors of good-quality art studios had been provided through planning gain as part of larger projects, one being in a historic building which had once been a factory for Yardley, the cosmetics company. As always, it is fascinating to see the multi-talented artistic beasts in their own lairs but you left feeling that there was a missed opportunity, in particular in Aspire Point in which Lothar Götz’s studio is located, the upper floors of which are student residences for Queen Mary University of London, but there is no connection between the two. Creating communities is a challenge, but it is not just about bricks and mortar, it is about connections and interactions – the challenge is how to achieve this – a challenge both for those developing the future of local communities and also those caring for the wellbeing of students in residences at universities. UCL are developing new residences nearby – how are they going to address this difficult question?