Friday 13 April 2012 – Whether we like it or not public art is out there, either the ludicrously expensive, waste of money types paid for with tax-payers money, or the rebellious tags and aerosol images of disaffected youth. There’s also innocuous shop fronts that have the ability to become more than a point of sale and emerge as a pleasing high street installations.
However there is also some pieces of public art, that are just plain rubbish – okay I know out there someone is gnashing their teeth, and shouting at the laptop screen about art being subjective. Well all I can say is – This is my blog so I can say what’s shit and what’s not.
Here is Stoke on Trent we have our fair share, one of which is the Privilege statue at Etruria, in my opinion the most unsightly piece of aluminium ever erected. I understand it’s supposed to represent the steel and pottery industry; (obsolete now), it’s there to symbolise growth; (you’re having a laugh) and the national garden festival; (years ago and forgotten by many).
We’ve a few aluminium statues around the city, which leads me to believe that someone must have had a job lot going cheap. We do however have what must be the most grotesque piece of public art in the country. Words fail me every time I pass this monstrosity, but I’ll leave you to make up your own mind: It’s made up of elements of the ceramics industry, however should we be visited by another life-form, they’d take one look at this and say, no wonder the potteries lost their ceramics heritage, if this is the best pot they could come up with.
But as art is subjective sometimes pleasure can come from the most unexpected places. Here’s a piece of advertising coupled with the interaction of a passing individual, it may not be a Damien Hirst, but it made me laugh.
But not all public art is abstract or aluminium, we’ve a fabulous piece of ceramic art that pays homage to one of the city’s great men, Reginald J. Mitchell. CBE,(1895 – 1937) – designer of the world famous Supermarine Spitfire. Sadly he died at the young age of just 42.
But what about art the isn’t intentional art? Well, take a quick look around any high street and you’ll uncover it lurking, minding its own business, unaware of it aesthetic persona. It’s surprising how pleasing the frontage of a pie and pasty shop can be, and how it plays homage to the Bauhaus arts movement with even knowing it.
There’s also public art that looks worryingly sinister, I came across these hoardings that are protecting cleared land from invasion by travellers. I’m sure they’re not meant to look like a piece of pre-war German propaganda, but they do to me.
Finally before I leave you with a photo album of other pieces of artwork in the city, please let me share with you my favourite public art, it stands beside the A50 on the way to Uttoxeter, it symbolises the pottery industry perfectly; shaped like bottle-ovens it’s a poignant reminder of how the city of Stoke on Trent became one of the most important ceramic producers in the world.
Have a good weekend everyone, and if you’re out and about take notice of all those installations out there, and maybe look for those potential masterpieces that you’ve overlooked before.