Big Stuff in Middlesbrough

May 12, 2013

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I‘ve just had a bowl of cereal that tasted like the smell of a pet shop. That reminded me of being a kid and made me think of this and Anish Kapoor’s plans where I grew up –

What is art ? I’ve no idea. I’m not sure of the merits of paying huge sums for commissions. Do artists of this ilk then move in to the same category as rock stars and footballers ? Will they ever again create for lesser sums ? Or for love of their craft ?

Some would say they deserve it, having never been acknowledged by the general public and receiving little reward, perhaps not even a living wage.

Boundaries are becoming blurred for the sculptural medium, with the advent and rapid progression of engineering technology. Engineers have always been in the shadows. Occasionally acknowledged for their structural input but I wonder in reality how much of the design and form is actually due to the engineer ? Probably quite a lot, once beyond the original fag packet sketch.

Years ago in the Industrial Revolution engineers covered all these disciplines. There were few, if any architects. Brunel was a great architect, but only ever thought of as an engineer.

I do sometimes think the concepts you see delivered only come about to prove a point – Set a challenge, we can do it, use different new techniques, with a new material on an impossible site – aren’t we clever ???

Historically this has always been the case with new materials and ever advancing technology, latterly to satisfy society’s demands or needs. But not to throw down a gauntlet to satisfy a whim or fancy. I’m not sure that is acceptable or an ethical use of resources.

Bizarrely the sculptural antithesis of this is only a few miles away. That is why I so like Gormley’s Angel of the North.

It Is sculpture as the man in the street knows it, in a simple understood material, originally local to the region, in a form we can understand. It is solid, in your face, awesome. A proper sculpture for the layman to get his teeth in to and walk his dog round. A poor man’s Christ the Redeemer with rain and rust because he’ll never see Rio for real.

As for the proposals around the Tees, it is fantastic. True maybe the money could be better spent on social infrastructure. But we all know that such budgets are not transferrable or negotiable, squandered by committees. So grasp it quick. This is is a truly blighted area, depressed, neglected, industrial contaminated waste land, inward looking, narrow minded, eroded people. Some will appreciate it, most will scoff. But at least it will bring something to their lives, promote small discussion in bars and work places. They will even visit the sites to jeer. I could’ve done that. What a waste of money. But they will have had a day out and who knows maybe some latent seed will spark and germinate ?

The dog may also have had a good walk. I look forward to seeing them all complete. It’s a worthy investment.

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