London’s largest collection of outdoor art curated for us by Lonely Planet London author* Steve Fallon.
(“To curate something is to carefully choose, arrange, and present items in order to get a particular effect.”)
That’s right, curated’s the right word – this one would be worth it for the route alone.
Add to it what Steve’s got to say about these pieces, their “settings” (why they are where they are), and the artists who created them and you’ve got a walking tour that, well, enchants.
Canary Wharf, which rose phoenix-like from the disused docklands starting in the 1980s, has become the second central business district of London (after the City of London) and a forest of mostly uninspiring 21st-century high-rises. But Canary Wharf is more than just a workhorse; it also has a very pretty face. Yes, most people don’t know this so it bears repeating: Canary Wharf is home to London’s largest collection of outdoor public art.
This very heterogeneous grouping of more than 75 works is a wonderful mix of stand-alone sculptures and integrated architectural works and some of them are interactive. Each piece is created by a respected artist and together the collection is like a rollcall of modern artistic talent.
The walk will look at the history of the docks as well as the development of Canary Wharf financial centre and its architecture, but the main focus will be on the artworks – from Ron Arad’s 50m-tall red-carbon needle called Windwand (which whistles in the breeze) and Giuseppe Lund’s stunning (and highly functional) `sculptural railings’ to Henry Moore’s bronze Draped Seated Woman.
Please note: This is a live walk – a London safari – lasting two hours and departing from Canary Wharf Underground station (West exit). Take the escalator to the top and wait outside in West Plaza. It ends at (or a short walk from) the same station.
*For good measure Steve’s an ace Blue Badge guide
Sylvia Livingstone –
We did this walk with Steve Fallon recently and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. Steve is extremely knowledgeable about art, history and all the other subjects we raised. He is informative, interesting and approachable; he didn’t mind we bombarded him with questions and could answer them all. A thoroughly nice man who made us feel comfortable. He seems to know EVERYTHING! Can’t recommend him highly enough.
Hugo G. –
The Canary Wharf Estate is not huge at 100 acres but a quarter of that is green space and there are also 75 pieces of public art and our guide Steve was great at showing us around. I have met many London guides and Steve was in the top league. He avoided being boring which is an essential criteria and another essential criteria is that he made us think which does not always happen. He made it quite clear that we should not be questioning whether what we see is art and indeed should not be commenting that there is not much artistic skill in some of the pieces but instead we should be reflecting on how what we see changes the way we look at the world? Actually, I have to say that I liked most of the art I saw during my time at Canary Wharf and I experienced the need to groan far less than had I spent two hours in the Tate Modern. I was glad I did this walk as it showed me a side to Canary Wharf that I had not really thought about before and Steve had been an excellent guide to it