Sunday, 18 September 2011

Public "Art" Love it or Hate it

Well, things have quietened down nicely here on the coast now, I find I have the time to do the things I like to do and actually take my time about it. I even have time to communicate more with some of my friends all over the world via t'interweb thingy.

During just such a chat with one of my Australian fellow artist friends, we touched on the subject of public art. You know what I'm talking about, not the pleasant, tastefully decked out galleries open to the public which we all like to visit occasionally. No, I'm talking about the ugly, pompous, pretentious and narcissistic rubbish dumped on an unsuspecting public by arrogant bureaucrats and sponsors! Sorry, didn't mean to shout.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good piece of sculpture tastefully displayed in sympathetic surroundings. I'll actually go out of my way to visit such pieces and admire (or  in some cases perhaps not) at my leisure. Therein lies my point. I firmly believe it should be my choice as to whether I go to see it or not, and I hate the fact that a previously beautiful or just plain interesting place can be instantly ruined by the positioning of some out of place ugly, pompous, pretentious and narcissistic rubbish! Ooops! there I go again, better take some more pills. Sorry to repeat myself, I pinched that phrase from another article and it's perfect!

I'll start with a piece I know very well which is Maggie Hamblings Scallop on Aldeburgh beach, just up the road from where I live. I actually really like this sculpture and often walk over to it when I'm walking the dogs that way to stand close to it where the sheer size and power of it is quite exhilarating.  

However that stretch of beach between Aldeburgh and Thorpeness used to include my favourite  views in all directions. North past Thorpeness and on a clear day as far as Southwold, or West across the marshy meadows to the woodlands, or the lovely and instantly recognisable Aldeburgh skyline and beyond to Orford looking South Or of course out to sea (where on a clear day you can just make out the latest wind farm on the horizon! don't get me started on that!) 
I don't see why they couldn't have placed the sculpture in the town close to the beach where it would still make a great impact, might even attract more viewers but wouldn't affect the views so much. Perhaps somewhere close to where this charming little statue of Snooks the dog is positioned. As it is from anywhere within about 2 miles, it enforces a full stop to the viewer enjoying what used to be one of the most beautiful and natural stretches of coastline in the area. I promise you I don't actually encourage Murphy to pee on it when we visit, he just shares my taste and opinion I think.

  There are many others around. I was horrified when I saw these monstrosities going up on Dunwich Heath until I realised they were to be only temporary. Anyone who knows Dunwich Heath will know what a stunning area of natural heathland it is, stretching right across to cliff tops where you can see Dunwich and Southwold to the North and bloody Sizewell Nuclear power stations to the South. These things were supposed to represent waves......right......someone please explain why? Buggered if I know. I think they were just one step above fly-tipping. 
And now a couple of examples of tastefully placed art. Firstly the Hepworth sculpture at Snape Maltings. It looks out over the river Alde and reed beds from the back of the Maltings but looking at it from further away it doesn't really detract from the natural beauty of the place. It's a bit dated I think now, but I'll let 'em off for that one.

 Just take a look at this one by Rick Kirby which is called 'Formation' and is at the entrance to Ravenswood in Ipswich, a tastefully built up area which used to be an airport.
These spires were inspired by a World War 2 poster showing 'a formation of planes caught in the criss-cross of search lights.' The female figures represent the women pilots who flew fighter planes during the war from factories to the aerodrome at Ravenswood. I think it's stunning!

Now take a look at this series of abominations sent to me from my Australian friend and described quite wonderfully by her.
"This green ribbony one is a personal favorite. This...wonderful piece of Fart.. is smack dab in the middle of a round about in a lovely suburb of Melbourne, Templestowe... near where I lived for 20 years so passed it too many times.

 All of this area was once apple orchards as far as the eye could see before large estates and big and medium size homes started popping up everywhere until finally.... the orchards were all gone. Progress! Huh!!

Well... would you believe this pale green metal crap represents the orchards that used to be here. Are you ready for this? It's supposed to be... "Apple Peel!!!"  Yeah! I know!! A real piece of work!!"

..and how about this one 

Stunning eh?!

A couple more Australian  beauties here....

...and finally........A Cow In A Tree!!!
Well, I don't think we have sunk quite that low yet here in the UK (I could be wrong!) So to finish a summing up by my cobber from down under...
"What's wrong with traditional, good quality, true art. People with real talent. Art that in 50 years time will still look fab. This shit will just look like .....old shit! If it's still standing! Rusted."

Couldn't have put it better myself. I wonder what they have in America..... I might start collecting, it might make a good book!

Nurse! More pills please!


kitdomino said...

Gosh, those sculptures in Oz certainly are awful. Shall think more of ours in UK now, and we have some pretty dreadful ones. Those one's on the beach up north on Crosby beach, what on earth are they doing there? Find them gross. Anyway, that's just me. Love the blog site, by the way.

sue said...

Great post Peter.

Here in Kent a prancing white horse (Invicta)has historically been 'our symbol'. When 'they' were looking to build an 'angel of the south' near the HighSpeed rail link at Ebbsfleet the winning entry was a white horse by Turner prizewinning artist Mark Wallinger (based on one of his own racehorses I think). Its just a horse standing still but 50M high and 56M long for heavens sake!!

At a protest meeting by local residents I loved the comment from a guy who lives close to the proposed site who said "looking out each morning up a horse's a**e isn't my idea of art"

It was supposed to have started in 2009 and been completed in time for the 2012 Olympics but I believe they haven't raised the necessary funding which was originally estimated at £2 and last I heard was £12 million. I can think of better uses for that kind of cash.

I think you should definitely collect more of these

Peter Williams said... the comment from the local guy Sue. I heard about that proposal and that it had been shelved. Just nonsensical isn't it.

Andrew said...

In america we have a huge piece of plastic with what looks like a volleyball net stuck to it, It annoys the crud out of me.