Slice of Reality

One of the sculptures commissioned for the Millennium Dome, Slice of Reality is looking a little the worse for wear these days, but perhaps that’s part of its charm – after all – when did you last see a ship – whole or otherwise – that didn’t have a few rust stains around the edges?

It was created by Richard Wilson (no, not that one) who specialises in making familiar objects strange (thank you Mr Brecht) by cutting up architectural forms. He’s most famous for that roomful of used sump oil that Charles Saatchi bought – you know – the one where the viewer had to walk in little channels so they could see the world reflected in the goo. I never saw it myself but anything that is equally loved and hated by the art world must have been worth a view…
Slice of Reality is the middle chunk of a ship that has been cut out, glass put over the sides so you can peer in and mounted on the riverbed. It’s supposed to continue the line of the Meridian, as though the line itself had cut through the ship, I understand. It “is a celebration of merchant shipping on the Thames” which is quite ironic really, since it could be argued that it was the Canary Wharf/Isle of Dogs and ultimately the Peninsula projects that really sealed the fate of merchant shipping on the Thames…

In 2000, if I recall, it had furniture and instruments in it, but last time I walked past it looked as though that had been removed and it was being used as some kind of store. Yet another instance which illustrates my belief that when art/sculpture/interesting 106 projects are commissioned there should be money ring-fenced at the outset for their upkeep.
I’m sure that I once saw it listed in an Open House Weekend so presumably you could once (and sometimes might still be able to) visit it. Has anyone done that?

Richard Wilson has been nominated for the Turner prize but clearly his work wasn’t mad or controversial enough to win. He’ll just have to do something really outrageous in the future…


One Comment to “Slice of Reality”

  1. [...] Cable Car is installed right next to it). Nearby, you’ll also find Richard Wilson’s Slice of Reality, a water-based cross-section through a [...]