Standing 7-metres (21 ft) tall, the immense male torso, with its organs partially exposed, faces across to the Lloyds Building, designed by Richard Rogers which too has its organs exposed, albeit in a different way in the distribution of its building services.
The cleverly-located “Temple” by Damien Hirst is one of the centrepieces of this year’s Sculpture in the City programme which places sculptures in public spaces across the City of London against the backcloth of its varied and ever-changing architecture. Now in its seventh year, some sculptures are in familiar locations from previous years; others are in new locations, a way of exploring hidden areas of the City. Some of the locations are obvious to passers-by such Mark Wallinger’s digitally-created “The Black Horse” (also the logo of Lloyds Bank nearby); some are hidden above you such as Martin Creed’s “Work No. 2814”, a commentary on the wastefulness of modern society, with blossoms in the tree replaced with old used plastic bags, Ryan Gander’s parachute-dropped aid parcel caught in a tree entitled “Never has there been such urgency, or The eloquent and the Gaga”, Kevin Killen’s “Tipping Point” adding light and colour translated from scenes of the City to the outside of another of Richard Rogers’ designs, the Leadenhall Building and Mhairi Vari’s cocoon-like clouds, strangely organic forms growing on the pristine metalwork of the Lloyds Building.
Elsewhere Paul McCarthy’s “Apple Tree Boy Apple Tree Girl” blows up and distorts cute German Hummel figures reflecting on loss of innocence and the conditioning of children in our consumer and image-conscious world, while Karen Tang’s brightly coloured alien figure from one side appears sinister but from the other has welcoming and embracing arms. Have aliens invaded the City?
Taking everyday items and given them new meaning, Nathaniel Rackowe has blown up a traditional garden shed, found in millions of gardens across the country, revealing its brightly coloured interior, Daniel Buren playfully recreates the form of a pagoda in “4 Colours at 3 Metres High Situating Work” and Gary Webb’s “Dreamy Bathroom” has whimsical figures in a bath or fountain, again contrasting with the Lloyds Building.
Bringing nature and antiquity into the City are Bosco Sodi’s “Untitled x3”, three brightly-coloured rocks created from dried volcanic magma from Mexico at a corner of 20 Fenchurch Street and the natural form of Peter Randall-Page’s “Envelope of Pulsation (For Leo)” carved from one block of granite from Blackenstone quarry on Dartmoor and dedicated to his late friend Leo, who owned the quarry, sits quietly within the architecture of the City, with an interesting twist - it has been adopted and a bicycle has been propped up alongside. Unchained and unsecured; you are not sure if it is not part of the sculpture itself.
Essential to exploring this year’s sculpture walk is to download the app, otherwise you will get lost. The plan from the website is so devoid of detail as to be meaningless in the more unusual and new locations. A minor quibble perhaps, for another excellent year of this sculptural initiative which brings colour, art and new artistic interactions into the City streetscape.