With all the talk about a virtual sky-world of high-up things to do around the O2 – at last count a Skywalk over the dome itself, the cable car (which has an open day to later on this month) and now, just in case we won’t have seen quite enough of the middle floors of Canary Wharf, a tethered ballon ride, I thought I’d give you an update on the art project that gets so little publicity that virtually no one seems to know about it.
I’ve talked about the Aluna Project several times before – a giant, tidal clock, created from recycled glass and moonbeams, sitting on the Meridian Line as a park, object of beauty and inspiration for all. I loved it even before it was going to be in Greenwich, (it was originally to be across the river at East India Dock basin), but ever since it’s been planned for the peninsula itself, I’ve been passionate about it.
It has big-hitter advocates, from the Astronomer Royal and Patrick Moore to Brian Eno, Boris Johnson to Nick Raynsford, and has one or two big sponsors. But I first wrote about this in 2008 - a terrible time to try to find funding – and further progress has been slow.
I guess one of the problems is that, by it’s very nature, Aluna would prove impossible to have plastered across it the name, logo or colours of any major corporate willing to sponsor it. The thing is made of glass and glows softly by night – you can’t stick purple posters all over it, or a giant slogan – it’s totally opposite in spirit to the corporate nature, even though the best view of it will arguably be from the giant towers at Canary Wharf. It does occur to me that many major religions of the world have ceremonies and beliefs based around the moon, and not a few of them are pretty wealthy. But then I can see problems arising from that – presumably the times of the month that various groups would want to use the place for religions purposes would probably coincide with each other and if one bunch stumped up more cash than another…
Besides – Aluna is for all – faithful and faithless alike. It fascinates scientists just as much as theologians, and yet doesn’t seem to attract money. I guess there’s just no financial gain to be had from beauty for the sake of it.
It’s been ages since I heard anything, so I thought I’d ask Laura Williams, the Trinity-Buoy Wharf-based artist whose inspiration Aluna is, if it’s still even on the cards. I’m happy to say that it is, and though progress appears to be slow, it’s still planned for the big of land where the river meets the Meridian, just by the Thames Path. At least their neighbours look keen – Greenwich Peninsula Regeneration Ltd have joined the development board to co-ordinate funding. They’ve been holding workshops and meetings, and the thing is looking more hopeful all the time.
There’s a groovy miniature interpretation now running at Trinity Buoy Wharf – it looks a bit like a glowing doughnut on a stick, which tells you the tide and time at night, via the moon, just like its big sister will, albeit from a rather more horizontal position - here’s a photo by Mark King, nicked off the Aluna website:
It’s 5m high – so it’s easily viewable from the Thames Path our side, a passing clipper or, obviously, from TBV itself – go on – treat yourself, take a stroll round the wharf, check out Longplayer and eat chips from Fat Boy’s Diner while you’re at it.
Aluna itself still seems a long way off, though I am heartened to know that they’re still plugging away at it. I’ll keep in touch with Laura and let you know how it’s going from time to time, but there is an opportunity to get involved if you’re interested – by becoming a Friend of Aluna or you can keep an eye on the website.
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