Greenwich has long been associated with culture and creativity.
From a ship in a bottle to a slice of a dredger, set off on this trail to discover some of the Royal Borough’s best outdoor installations and sculptures.
Follow the route
Starting in Greenwich Park, follow the map and find more directions and information about each artwork below.
1. Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge by Henry Moore
Starting at Blackheath Avenue at the top of Greenwich Park, head towards The Avenue (the road that runs behind the Royal Observatory Greenwich). As you walk down the hill, look out for a towering sculpture on your left-hand side.
Cast in 1976, Henry Moore’s Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge takes inspiration from the shape of a bird’s breastbone. Moore was one of the leading artists of the twentieth century and is best remembered for his semi-abstract bronze sculptures. During his lifetime, he produced more than 1,000 sculptures, many of which are on public display.
2. Yuri Gagarin statue
Located outside the Royal Observatory, this statue depicts Yuri Gagarin, the first person in space. Gagarin achieved this milestone on 12 April 1961, when he orbited the Earth in the Vostok 1 spacecraft.
This statue was created to mark the 50th anniversary of the voyage and shows the Russian astronaut wearing his spacesuit and standing astride the globe. It is a replica of a sculpture made in 1984, which is on display in Lyubertsy, southeast of Moscow.
3. Nelson's Ship in a Bottle by Yinka Shonibare
Walk round the Observatory towards the statue of Major-General James Wolfe, known for his victory over the French at Quebec in 1759, and take a moment to look at the views of the London skyline. When you’re ready, head down the hill and make your way through the park towards the National Maritime Museum.
The ship’s patterned sails are influenced by Indonesian batik designs (the art of decorating cloth using wax and dye), which were mass-produced by Dutch traders and sold in West Africa.
4. Nannie, Cutty Sark's figurehead
Walk through or loop round the National Maritime Museum. Cross Romney Road and meander through the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College before turning left – you'll soon be able to spot the masts of Cutty Sark.
Located in the heart of Maritime Greenwich, Cutty Sark is the world’s only surviving tea clipper – a narrow, streamlined ship designed to transport tea.
Look out for the figurehead of Nannie the witch which adorns the prow of the ship. Figureheads were seen as lucky charms on voyages: they represented the spirit of the ship and provided protection for the vessel and its crew.
5. A Bullet from a Shooting Star by Alex Chinneck
Stroll towards the river and turn right to join the Thames Path. As you continue along the trail towards the Greenwich Peninsula (around a 30-minute walk), make sure to soak up the views of the city skyline.
Follow the route towards the O2 Arena and look out for an inverted electricity pylon. Created in 2015, Alex Chinneck’s A Bullet from A Shooting Star draws on the Peninsula’s industrial history: the area was once home to the largest oil and gas works in Europe. The structure is 35 metres in height and is made from 466 pieces of steel.
The sculpture is part of a series of installations which can be seen on The Line, a public art walk which runs between the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford and the O2.
6. A Slice of Reality by Richard Wilson
Just a short walk further along the Thames Path is this maritime-themed installation, located on the Thames foreshore. Titled A Slice of Reality, this cross-section of an ocean-going sand dredger was created by sculptor Richard Wilson in 2000.
The artwork provides a nod to Greenwich’s maritime heritage, and the ship’s vertical slice references the way in which the Prime Meridian line cuts through the Greenwich Peninsula. The piece also forms part of The Line’s outdoor exhibition programme.
7. Mermaid by Damien Hirst
Continue past The O2 until you reach Damien Hirst’s Mermaid, a bronze sculpture overlooking the Thames. One of the world’s leading contemporary artists and a former Greenwich resident, Hirst is known for his thought-provoking artworks that draw on themes including death and science.
Mermaid is one of the sculptures from Hirst’s 2017 exhibition Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, which told the story of the ancient treasures that were supposedly lost in a legendary shipwreck. Make sure to look for the parrot fish and crabs in the mermaid’s hair and the blue-ringed octopus under one of the sculpture’s waves. This sculpture is part of a series of artworks along The Tide, a new riverside park in Greenwich Peninsula.
8. Quantum Cloud by Antony Gormley
A stone’s throw away from Mermaid is this monumental sculpture, located on a platform in the middle of the Thames. Created by sculptor Antony Gormley – known for his work Angel of the North – Quantum Cloud is made from more than 3,500 pieces of galvanised steel.
When viewed from certain angles, the form of a human figure can be seen at its centre. The work invites viewers to question the relationship between the self and the world.
When you're finished exploring, why not return to your starting point by river? North Greenwich Pier is right by the walk's end, with direct riverboat services returning to Greenwich Pier and Cutty Sark.