Damien Hirst, Martin Creed, and Gary Hume Star in The Line, London’s New Art Walk
This major sculpture park didn't get one cent of public money.
Move over New York, London is finally getting a High Line of its own. The Line, as the British version will be called, is a three-mile outdoor public art walk in East London. It will open to the public on May 23, with a selection of sculptures by artists including Damien Hirst, Martin Creed, Gary Hume, Eduardo Paolozzi, Sterling Ruby, Thomson & Craighead, and Piotr Uklanski (see London to Get its Own High Line?).
“In London, we have tended to hold back from public sculpture, with the exception of course of the much-celebrated Fourth Plinth,” founder Megan Piper told artnet News. “But I feel things are changing and interest is growing. One of the most appealing aspects of public art, including The Line, is that it democratizes access. It gives us the opportunity to engage new audiences in an area where there is not so much access to art through galleries and museums.”
London’s response to New York’s High Line is bookended by two of the biggest new development projects in the city, the Olympic Park and the O2 Arena, but it also runs through the historical Royal Docks, which were once the largest in the world.
“The Line will connect very diverse and largely unknown areas which we are keen to uncover,” Piper continued. “This area of London has an amazing selection of industrial and brutalist architecture, as well as stunning wildlife and nature. We thought it’d be exciting to introduce modern and contemporary art within that setting, and give people a route that meanders through the waterways.”
Considering its public-oriented nature, it comes as a surprise that The Line doesn’t receive any public funding at the moment (although Mayor of London Boris Johnson has endorsed the project, deeming it “exciting”). The Line is completely self-funded, another happy outcome of the crowd-funding trend which shows no signs no abating.
Crowd-Funding Through Spacehive
In 2014, Piper and her fellow co-founder, the urban regeneration expert Clive Dutton, raised £140,000 through the crowd-funding platform Spacehive. They have subsequently enlisted a circle of patrons, as well as a number of sponsors, whose details are yet to be revealed.
The pieces selected for the launch are the result of an open submission. Artists, galleries, and collections were invited to pitch works, which were assessed by a panel including Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger, Whitechapel Gallery curator Omar Kholeif, and art collector Anita Zabludowicz.
The works have been loaned for two years by galleries including Hauser & Wirth, Gagosian, White Cube, Carroll / Fletcher, and Pangolin London. But The Line’s endgame is to create a permanent outdoor display, adding works on a regular basis. The organizers now have to find a way to secure its existence long-term.
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