Line dancing through the arty East End

Limehouse Cut /Lea Navigation canal London ©

Uklanski+renderingFROM a church hall in Hackney to a place on the world art stage…some achievement for a young woman who started to make her name with a popup.

Less than four years ago Megan Piper, below right, with artist Vaughan Grylls, was sitting in the dusty hall of St Mark’s, Dalston, waiting for the public if not art dealers to pass through the doors of the then-unrenovated venue to view a stunning installation.

Cockney photographer and Sixties legend David Bailey happened to turn up to the launch party for the popup and her meeting him eventually linked her to urban-regenerationist Clive Dutton and Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger.

Megan Piper, above, with artist Vaughan Grylls © David Altheer By then Piper had opened a permanent Piper Gallery in the West End to promote ageing  overlooked artists she thought deserved better. The gallery has since closed but she continues to represent the artists.

With Dutton and Wallinger, she came up with the idea of borrowing artworks stashed away in public galleries and private collections to install on a 6km trail along the man-made incarnations of the River Lea, from the Olympic Park down to the O2 dome. They would call it The Line.

Emirates Cable car Royal Victoria Dock London ©
Cable: even modern machines, such as this at Royal Victoria Dock, merit artistic assessment

New Yorkers may snigger that London has grabbed a concept they had first, yet if it opens eyes to the industrial heritage and artistic pleasures of the rivers and canals in No 1 City, let ’em snigger.

Happily, Mayor of London Boris Johnson gave his public support, always a help, even if his comment reveals that he — well, a City Hall publicist — knows little about the route.

Still, using crowdfunding and some money given by an architectural firm, the team raised about £150,000 for the project, and it was away.

Artists whose work is being inserted into The Line include Damien Hirst, Martin Creedy, Gary Hume, Eduardo Paolozzi and Piotr Uklanski, whose Untitled (The Thing), photographed by Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners, is shown, if only to demonstrate this variation on the tiresome trick of artists’ naming a work  “untitled”.

Film director Danny “Slumdog Millionaire” Boyle, who devised the London Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, says The Line will be a sculpture walk “for everyone to enjoy”.

The artworks should be in place by Saturday 23 May 2015, well secured, say the organisers.  No doubt London will hear within a few days how well secured.

David Altheer 190515

Three Mills Island London 210415 ©
Three Mills Island at Bow will be the focus of one of the artworks

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