Walk the Line: Public Art Breathes New Life into East London

The new sculpture walk near the Greenwich meridian is the best reason to venture east.

Eduardo Paolozzi
OF 6

Three years after the Olympics failed to transform East London as Mayor Boris Johnson hoped they would, it might just be a public art project that makes the area a true destination. The ten world-class contemporary sculptures that constitute the Line are drawing art goers away from Mayfair’s cloistered galleries and into the former industrial wasteland. The Line’s three-mile path winds along the Thames and its local tributary the River Lea, broadly tracing the Greenwich meridian. Since it launched in May, it has garnered comparisons to Manhattan’s urban-renewal wonder the High Line.

The Line was spearheaded by art-dealer Megan Piper, 30, and urban regeneration expert Clive Dutton, who passed away at 62 shortly after its completion. Central to the concept—besides the beautification of a once-dismal landscape—is a radical rethinking of the role art can play in a city. The intention was not necessarily to commission site-specific work, Piper says, but rather to “borrow existing works, from artists and galleries and private collections, and bring them outdoors so that you’re democratizing the presentation of the work and establishing an outdoor exhibition space in East London.” Here are our five favorite stops along the way.