Newham gets UK's largest bronze sculpture

By Rob Virtue on July 5, 2012 2:27 PM |


The Royal Docks is now home to the country's largest statue made of bronze after Athena was unveiled on Thursday morning.

The sculpture. a labour of love of international artist Nasser Azam, sits on the Connaught Bridge to the west of London City Airport and will welcome passengers in to the region.

Athena, named after the Greek goddess of philosophy, is 12metres high and cost £1million to build. It has been funded by Ireland-based drugs firm Elan.

The statue was the idea of Azam, who said he wanted to give back to the area he grew up in.


"I've done a couple of quite extreme things in my life but this has been the most ambitious experience," said Azam.

"The inspiration was to create something simple but reflective of the changes taking place in the area.

"It's been exciting and to open this in the Olympic year has added to that."

Azam was born in Pakistan in 1963, before moving to east London when he was seven.

After graduating from university, the former Langdon Park student become a banker for Merrill Lynch, reaching chief operating officer for global markets and banking in Europe.

He quit the role in 2008 to focus on his art and not long after sold a painting completed in space at zero gravity for $330,000 at an auction in New York.

Another of his artworks is at South Bank near the London Eye.


He dedicated Athena to his father, Khizr-e-Azam, a retired teacher who was granted the freedom of Newham in 2003 for his work in the community.

Speaking at the Ramada Excel hotel near to the site of Athena, East Ham MP Stephen Timms, who unveiled the statue, said: "This is a significant moment for our community as we don't have much in the way of sculptures in our borough.

"I welcome the joyous character of Athena and I'm pleased it's the work of someone who has frown up in this community."


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