The best outdoor art in East Anglia

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Words by Harriet Cooper

It’s the Art Eat Festival in Ipswich on 21 and 22 September, a celebration of creativity, art and street food along the Ipswich Waterfront. During the weekend, three large art murals will be created, as well as a sizeable urban textile installation. To mark the occasion, we unearth where else you can appreciate outdoor art across the network, from sculpture parks to Banksy murals.

The artwork: the ArcelorMittal Orbit

Designed by artist Sir Anish Kapoor and engineer Cecil Balmond, the ArcelorMittal Orbit in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is the UK’s largest sculpture, constructed from enough steel to make 265 double-decker buses. Take the lift to the viewing platforms for 20-mile views across the London skyline, before whizzing down in the world’s tallest and longest slide.

While you're there...

There’s something for everyone at the Olympic Park, which was originally built for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. After exploring the parkland with its tranquil waterways, pretty fountains and wetlands teeming with wildlife, kids will love the adventure playgrounds and the giant climbing walls.

Nearest station: Stratford

ArcelorMittal Orbit

The artwork: Question Mark

At Ipswich Waterfront, you’ll come across Question Mark. The sizeable art work – made by London-based artists Langlands & Bell – consists of two parts: a four-metre high black-and-white granite and steel sculpture and an LED light display, designed to link the north and south sites of the University Campus Suffolk.

While you’re there…

Ipswich is a town rich in heritage and culture, so there’s plenty to do. The waterfront buzzes with restaurants, cafés and bars and it’s also where you can jump aboard the Orwell Lady, which takes you along the River Orwell to the bustling ports of Felixstowe and Harwich.

Nearest station: Ipswich

Ipswich Waterfront

The artwork: The Suffolk Trinity

This depicts three animals: a Suffolk Punch, a heavy horse developed for farm work in the 16th-century; a Red Poll bull; and a Suffolk ram – all of them rare breeds which originated in the county. The life-sized sculpture, created by artist Harriet Mead, stands proudly at the entrance to the Trinity Park showground on the eastern edge of Ipswich.

While you’re there…

Set in 350 acres of parkland, Trinity Park encompasses a huge array of outdoor and indoor events though the highlight has to be the annual Suffolk Show; held on 27 and 28 May next year, it showcases the best of Suffolk’s food, farming and agricultural heritage.

Nearest station: Ipswich

The artwork: East London street art

East London – Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Hoxton and Hackney in particular – is packed with some of the best street art in the world, from graffiti art and murals to cool stickers, painted shutters and offbeat sculptures. Join a street art tour and uncover works by Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Ben Eine and ROA, to name a few.

While you’re there…

You’ll never be short of things to do in Shoreditch. Visit the heavenly-scented Columbia Flower Market, while Brick Lane is a foodie’s haven with everything from bagels to curries to be tasted. The district is also home to some of the coolest cafés, restaurants and clubs in town.

Nearest station: London Liverpool Street

Shoreditch street art

The artwork: The Sculpture Park

The Sculpture Park – which stretches across the University of East Anglia campus in Norwich – consists of 350 acres of parkland packed with fauna and flora. But the highlight is undoubtedly the sculptures which dot the landscape. Download the map and seek out works by everyone from Henry Moore and Antony Gormley to Lynn Chadwick and Elisabeth Frink.

While you’re there…

Norwich seamlessly blends the past with the present. While it’s the most complete medieval city in the UK, complete with a stunning Norman cathedral, the city also has a flourishing arts scene, superb shopping (don’t miss the Lanes) - and lively nightlife.

Nearest station: Norwich

The artwork: The Drums to the Fore and Aft

The Drums to the Fore and Aft (known locally as the Drummer Boy) was moved last year from Woodbridge’s Melton Hill to a new home outside the Shire Hall on Market Hill. The newly-renovated bronze statue, by Arnold 8th Earl of Albemarle, was inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s story of a disastrous battle of the second Anglo-Afghan War.

While you’re there…

Woodbridge is a vibrant market town, which sits on the banks of the River Deben and on the edge of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Head for the bustling quayside for a coffee, before visiting the working Tide Mill and strolling along the river.

Nearest station: Woodbridge

The artwork: The Henry Moore Studios and Gardens

This site near Much Hadham, is where Henry Moore, arguably one of the most significant artists of the 20th-century, created some of his greatest works. Explore the 70 acres of grounds, which are dotted with his world-famous sculptures, take a tour of the Moore family home and the beautiful gardens created by Henry’s wife Irina, and the artist’s studio.

While you’re there…

With its thatched cottages and local pub, Much Hadham is the quintessential English village. The Forge Museum features a local history gallery, Elizabethan wall paintings and exhibits about blacksmithing in mythology, art and literature.

Nearest station: Bishop’s Stortford; the 351 bus from Bishop’s Stortford stops in Much Hadham and it’s a 1.5mile walk to Perry Green

Henry Moore sculpture

The artwork: Fulcrum

Fulcrum by American sculptor Richard Serra, just outside Liverpool Street station, is a freestanding 55-foot sculpture that towers over Broadgate Circle. Consisting of five pieces of steel, the minimalist masterpiece has been called one of London’s “design icons” by Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum.

While you’re there…

Liverpool Street is the gateway to London and all the capital city has to offer. Seeing as you’re in East London, why not potter around Old Spitalfields Market with its plethora of stalls, before taking the super-speedy lift up 110 Bishopsgate Tower – the third tallest skyscraper in the UK – for a meal at Duck and Waffle.

Nearest station: London Liverpool Street

Liverpool Street Station

The artwork: Captain Mainwaring

Sitting on a bench in the middle of Thetford, you’ll find a life-size bronze statue of Captain Mainwaring from Dad’s Army. Many scenes from the beloved BBC sitcom, about the Home Guard during World War II, were filmed in the town and there is also a museum dedicated to the television series.

While you’re there…

Thetford Forest – a short stroll from the train station – is the UK’s largest man-made lowland forest, with over 18,000 hectares to explore. Kids will love swinging through the treetops at Go Ape.

Nearest station: Thetford

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