Inspirational Monstrosity – Is Public Art for the public?

“Orbit” by Anish Kapoor – the most recent protagonist in the story of the public vs. Public art. Image courtesy of, click for link.

Public Art can be a contentious issue for several reasons. Often people find public artworks to be eyesores, as seen in the recent backlash from the completion of Anish Kapoor’s Olympic Park sculpture. At other times public art commissions are unambitious and lead to poor artworks lining roads or sitting in village greens. Much Street Art, in particular graffiti, is destroyed as quickly as it is created, and is bemoaned by many as being aggressive or just ugly.

It is little surprise that Public Art suffers some degree of outspoken criticism. While gallery art takes its own share of lambasting, it is still safely ensconced within the white cube, the traditional art space where the public visit less often. Public Art on the other hand is displayed in the public domain, most often installed as a permanent fixture. Continue reading “Inspirational Monstrosity – Is Public Art for the public?”

This Is Your God: Orienteering by advertisements

Bonus points to anyone who can place this billboard…

Poster and billboard advertising is an acute way of judging the difference between two places. In the undecorated steel and glass of airports there can be few indicators to remind a traveller who has just arrived that they have even left their original location. One of the common and decisive indicators is a change in language or tone in the advertisements that are on display.

I remember landing in London for the first time and getting the tube into the city. At the first station three escalator journeys awaited, and on the tiled wall during the slow ascent there passed identical framed advertisements spaced a little apart from one another the whole way up. This deluge of small posters is not a rare sight in the London Underground, but it seemed unusual to me initially as it did not mirror any other metro or untergrundbahn that I had previously encountered. Continue reading “This Is Your God: Orienteering by advertisements”

Nostalgia for New York 2: Referencing reality

At the end of last year I wrote a piece called Nostalgia for New York, which essentially looked at the idea of nostalgia that I was able to associate with a place that I had never been to. While writing that piece I was unaware that I would be in New York four months afterward, but circumstance and chance conspired and I found myself spending some time in the grand metropolis of the east coast of the USA recently, and this gave me the opportunity to rethink some of the topics I had originally looked at regarding New York.

It’s not that I had tried to write about New York specifically when writing the original piece – I was more tinkering with a popular culture model of the city; looking at how New York was portrayed and how this portrayal changed as I grew up. So one of the striking things I then found about actually hitting New York City was recognising all of these places that I had seen before in movies, TV shows or video games. Everything seemed bizarrely familiar – it wasn’t quite deja-vu, but more like borrowing another person’s memory to make sense of something that I was seeing Continue reading “Nostalgia for New York 2: Referencing reality”