The Line is a brand new sculpture walk in East London, running approximately along the meridian from Stratford to North Greenwich. It's been a very long time coming.
The project was crowdfunded to the tune of £140,000 last year, with plans to install a series of outdoor sculptures by the summer. But sourcing the works, and making arrangements for their installation, delayed things somewhat, and the whole thing is opening approximately one summer late. To be more precise, it's opening this morning.
One important thing about The Line is that it's not a line. It might have been, if only a footpath existed all the way down the Lea to the Thames, but nobody's ever managed to make that happen. Instead the official route follows the Lea for two miles, then hops on the DLR to the Royal Docks, then rides the cablecar to follow the Thames round the O2. There are four sculptures in each of these three clusters, requiring a multi-modal trek to see the lot, the end result anything but linear.
Not all of the dozen sculptures on The Line are new. Two by the Dome have been there since the Millennium, but just happened to be in the right place to be adopted for this project. But the other contributors include some of the biggest names in modern art, including Damian Hirst, Martin Creed and Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, each providing one massive work for the enjoyment of anyone who cares to stroll through.
And not all of the sculptures have yet been installed, or at least hadn't been installed by yesterday evening, or else I somehow didn't see them as I passed by. Indeed I only spotted five out of the ten new pieces, three of these already in place by the Royal Docks, and another being lowered by a massive crane round the back of an Amazon warehouse. But by ten this morning they should all be in place, and if you've got the stamina you can come and see the lot.
I've already walked The Line, you see, I walked it last night, because I thought it might tempt you to follow suit. The organisers reckon the full Line takes three hours whereas I did it in two, so I assume they reckon you're either quite slow or that you'll be weak-willed and break off for a coffee somewhere. That two hours works out as approximately an hour down the Lea from Stratford to Star Lane (for the DLR), a quarter of an hour round the Royal Docks (for the cablecar) and then almost half an hour round the tip of the North Greenwich peninsula. All in all it's almost five miles on foot, if you're thinking of following. [map]
• Network by Thomas J Price: This wasn't in place last night, but there was a big hole on Three Mills Green awaiting a big bronze man checking his phone. [Friday photo][Saturday photo]
• Bill Viola at the House Mill: This one's a black and white video installation inside the House Mill, open from 11am-4pm daily until the end of August (inside a fantastic historical building in itself). [photo]
• Untitled (The Thing) by Piotr Uklanski: Of this (supposedly by the District line) there was absolutely no sign, nor does it appear on The Line's summary map. Crucially the official route currently bypasses this location while we wait for someone to add temporary steps to the Twelvetrees bridge.
• DNA DL90 by Abigail Fallis: Halfway down the remote footpath alongside Bow Creek leading to Cody Dock, twenty-two supermarket trolleys rise in a whirlwind above the riverside. Fabulous. [photo][photo][photo][photo]
• Sensation by Damien Hirst: A multi-coloured slice of skin, in fibreglass, has been plonked on the grass just outside Cody Dock. It's most arresting. [photo][photo]
(and then the DLR from Star Lane to Royal Victoria)
• Vulcan by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi: A massive bronze man stands on the dockside outside a restaurant, staring out towards the cablecar. A favourite. [photo][photo]
• Work No.700 by Martin Creed: It's a small girder on top of a medium girder on top of a large girder. I cannot overemphasise enough how utterly and completely this work was ignored by passers-by last night. [photo][photo]
• Consolidator #654321 by Sterling Ruby: This aluminium piece looks like a red metal coffin on a plinth, and sits near the entrance to The Crystal. [photo][photo]
• something by James Balmforth: Couldn't find it, couldn't find any information about it.
(and then the Dangleway)
• Quantum Cloud by Anthony Gormley: This humanoid swarm of metal bars has stood off North Greenwich Pier since 1999. [photo][photo]
• Liberty Grip by Gary Hume: A part-severed pair of contorted kicking limbs, apparently, though it hadn't landed by the Thames last night.
• A Slice of Reality by Richard Wilson: A thin slice of sand dredger, no less, created for the Millennium and moored off the back of the Dome. I've been on board, you know. [photo]
• Here by Thomson & Craighead: And finally, a signpost leading back to where you're standing. There's no sign as yet, but if they don't hang it precisely on the meridian, I shall be very cross. [photo]
A grand opening party is planned this afternoon at Cody Dock, starting at 3pm and continuing into the evening, with food and music and workshops, and I think I heard somebody mention goodie bags. If you've nothing else on you should come, perhaps arriving by free rickshaw from Star Lane station, because why the hell not. And one day soon you should walk the rest of The Line as well (assuming you can make sense out of the pig's ear of a website), to enjoy fine modern art and the post-industrial backside of East London.