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Sculpture takes to the City streets: Martin Wroe on plans to confront the public with imposing works of art

SHE'S nine foot tall, black, weighs three hundredweight and is about to park herself in the middle of the Barbican Centre in London.

The Walking Woman by Andre Wallace is one of dozens of works going on display in very public places from next Thursday as part of Art in The City, a sculpture trail that will link 16 sites in the City of London. Following the lead of other European cities, artists in London are being invited to take their creations on to the streets.

As well as his new woman, Mr Wallace will be showing new versions of two of his other favourites. Two glass fibre figures in rowing boats are set for a paddle on the Barbican lake while the mysterious gossips of The Whisper - in which one strapping woman sitting on a fence speaks furtively into the ear of her friend, another huge woman on the same fence - will watch over travellers at Fenchurch Street station.

And the artist will be only too pleased if he finds his new audience clambering all over his work.

'I like it when people touch them,' he said at his East End studio, where he is busily trying to finish his nine-foot woman's right shoulder. 'It means that art is not set apart, not put at a distance from people as it often is in galleries and museums.'

Art in the City, which features bronze and stone structures as well as kinetic work using optic fibres, will place pieces of sculpture throughout the City at places including Leadenhall Market, St Paul's Churchyard and the Bank of England.

A life-size elephant by Anthony Heywood, made of old televisions and recycled household gadgets, will appear in Broadgate. A flock of wire sheep by Sophie Ryder will graze in Finsbury Circus and a giant head will apparently be breaking through the paving stones of Paternoster Square.

And if the art refreshes the public, the public's reaction invigorates the artist.

'You know your work is successful if you can see the public reacting,' Wallace said.

'A mixed reaction is success. Even if you listen to some people not liking it, you hear many who do. You're only on to a loser if nobody likes it.'

Art in the City runs until 25 July.

(Photograph omitted)