When in London City next, make sure to catch two installations around Piccadilly. While one is obvious, the other one is something you will need to crane your neck up to and is a lot more interesting – The Three Graces.
On every visit to the city, having passed through Piccadilly Circus so often, I have barely ever noticed my surroundings, absorbed as I am with the throngs of people that come here and other worldly distractions. Until one summer day, on my last visit. Taking a break from all the window shopping, I stepped out of one of many stores and decided to sip on a takeaway coffee. As I looked around, my eyes wandered to the rooftops and that is when I had my first peak at the three sisters.
Piccadilly Circus station happens to be one of two underground stations that is among the busiest in London. While it make sense to avoid this area, especially during peak rush hour, it’s also a nice place to catch your breath while waiting to catch the underground or hop onto a bus to your next destination, It gives you ample time to watch people either rushing for another meeting or simply idling away.
Close to the station, at the corner where Piccadilly meets Haymarket on 1 Jermyn Street is a building adjacent to the Criterion Building. Perched on the roof of this building are The Three Graces. Also known as the daughters of Helios and naiad-nymph Aegle, the gold leafed aluminium statues shows the three sisters – Aglaea, Euphrosyne and Thalia, leaping from the rooftop above.
Immediately below the three sisters are the Horses of Helios at the corner of Haymarket. As if bursting from the fountain, it depicts Aethon, Eous, Phlegon and Pyrois – the four horses of Helios, the Greek god of the sun, tearing away from hell.
A little unfortunate for the sisters, as most tourists seem to miss out on this beautiful sculpture just above them and instead focus on the Horses of Helios.
Both installations are the creation of the artist and sculptor, Rudy Weller. They were commissioned in 1992, when the Criterion theatre was refurbished. Interestingly, he’s also a bar owner.