Public sculpture – where did it all go wrong?

Last night’s World Cup final was great in so many ways, not least the astonishing juxtaposition of Rio’s Cristo Redentor with the sun (and the moon):

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It was completed in 1931, funded by local donations, with a total cost of about $250,000, which is the equivalent of $3,300,000 now.  A bargain, if you ask me

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Admittedly Corcovado (the mountain) and the bay are unique, but even so, a truly inspiring and aesthetically perfect piece. Here in Britain, if you are on the A1 at Newcastle, you’ll see the Angel of the North, by Antony Gormley. Personally, I like it, though it’s hardly Cristo Redentor.

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It was paid for by the Lottery, completed in 1998, cost: £1,000,000. Still good value, and more to the point, enigmatic and impressive.

Which brings me to Arria, the ‘Cumbernauld Mermaid’, on the A80 just north of Glasgow, completed in 2010. If you can imagine a  gigantic Barbie with 4 arms, a 60’s hairband and a fishtail, you’ve got it. The sculptor also did the Kelpies, which are alright, if you have an enormous garden centre to fill, but Arria is just embarrassing. It cost the public £250,000. No doubt the council had a surplus on the council tax that year, and were looking for something to spend it on.

Cumbernauld isn’t really renowned for mermaids, at least to my knowledge. However, if you’re looking for a symbol of money wasting, crazed local government philistines whose taste is in their boots, it’s perfect. I reckon it’ll last about 20years.

I don't know what to say
I don’t know what to say
...it's even tackier at night
…it’s even tackier at night

 

 

 

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