I get heartily fed up with Corporate Art – usually in sculpture-form, designed, effectively, by committee, even if it has a famous name attached to it, poorly executed and often just in the wrong bloomin’ place (I don’t, for example, disapprove of a statue of The Unknown Construction Worker – but what’s it doing outside the Tower of London?)
Companies decide they want a piece of Art and put the job out to tender. Somehow it seems that it would be better that the art actually grew out of a moment of inspiration – from someone with something to say, rather than coming up with something that “will do,” as long as it fits in with the corporate image.
Anyone who’s been to Bluewater recently may have seen the uninspiring selection of submissions for the in-my-view-utterly-pointless Angel-Of-The South sculpture to be hoved up – around Ebsfleet, if I recall. The folks up North have their Angel – and, I’ll admit, very fun it is too. But that doesn’t mean we have to have one too (though of course anyone who was reading last week will remember this is not a new thing…)
In my humble opinion the best form of art grows from an artist’s very soul – where they have absorbed what is around them, the issues they care about and the history and landscape that the art is to be in (and no I don’t count the entry for the Angel of the South statue that looks exactly like a dodgy Kent scrap metal yard – I don’t believe it’s actually occurred to the guy…)
You could say that makes me a hopeless idealist and that sponsorship has gone on for centuries. Perhaps I am and of course it has. But Art where the artist actually has something to say does exist. What I don’t get is why they don’t seem to attract the kind of giant corporate sponsorship that the vacuous ones do…
If you haven’t already met her, allow me to introduce you to Aluna.
She is (or might be, if they ever get the cash) the world’s first tidal-powered Lunar Clock. A gigantic series of concentric glass rings, she’s made out of thousands of tiny recycled glass panels each containing a little LED light. As the tide rises and falls, powering the lights, they illuminate various areas of the rings, telling the exact state of the tide – and the phase and time of the Moon. The relationship between the Moon and the tide have been vital to the Thames and to London for – well – for ever, actually, and this is a physical – and IMHO beautiful – representation of that.
It will be so big that, if it actually comes about, they’ll be able to use the ground around the base (at the currently derelict East India Dock Basin across the river) as a park and place for festivals for people to whom the Moon is still a powerful religious/spiritual symbol.
I met Laura Williams, the artist who came up with this eccentric, but perfectly-placed and conceived project, when she opened her studio for all-comers over a weekend at Trinity Buoy Wharf a couple of weeks ago (an extraordinary place; I will be banging on about TBW at great length in sundry later posts) and she told me that she was desperate for it to go at the East India Dock Basin as part of the park, because it is so well-aligned with Greenwich and the Meridian, with all its time-space-maritime connections. We’d be able to see it glowing eerily from Greenwich Hill, but I don’t see that this could be anything other than a thing of beauty.
There’s something almost ‘soft’ about this giant, solid structure that I can see settling into the modern landscape with an almost timeless feel – a link with the past, the present and the future. Because it’s powered by the moon, this isn’t going to be arc-light-strength – it will be a much softer, gentler light – highlighting, rather than adding to the lighting pollution problem.
I utterly love this project. It helps that I’ve actually seen a model – the picture, which I’ve pinched from the website doesn’t do it justice. There’s another image which I can’t find, which shows the fabulous Meridian laser clipping it (I do hope that that laser doesn’t have to be turned off when they build that giant building on the Peninsula.)
The Aluna guys have development funding – but not the cash they need to build it. Even with all the Olympic “regeneration” going on north of the river, the project seems to be slipping under the radar, so to speak. If we don’t get it, though, it’s possible it will still be built but not quite so easily accessible. The Australians, apparently, are very keen to see it go Down Under…