Page 1 of 4

Coneheads / how should we treat our sculptural heritage

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 3:33 pm
by Closet Classicist
Interesting article in the ET by Gary Nisbit of Glasgow sculpture website who says the Duke of Wellington statue needs to be better protected:

I've always been amused by this as it kind of eloquently summed up Glasgow and its irreverent sense of humor, but in fairness Gary (who has a great sense of humour BTW) has a good point. I had no idea how badly damaged the statue has gotten and being sanctioned by the council doesn't help. Whats worse is that this is the tip of the iceberg with Lobby dosser being sawn off at the knees, and Shona Kinlochs bird sculptures in the west end stolen. Glasgow has a fantastic wealth of public sculpture, probably more than any other city in the UK outside London, but is it right we treat our sculptural heritage in this way?

Lets open it up to the floor:



PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 3:49 pm
by Sharon
The question is of course, how do you stop someone who is motivated to cause damage, or steal, or go to the trouble of sawing bits off from doing so whilst still leaving the sculptures in accessible public places?

I wondered about this after someone lopped the heads of Henry Moores King & Queens sculture which sits on open hillside over looking Glenkiln reservoir (in Galloway) ... the only solution appears to be to repair the damage (which they did in that case) or to replace teh sculptures with replicas - which again ahs been done with another of teh glenkiln sculptures - i was supised to knock on it and discover it had turned into fiberglass!!!

So, as for how to treat it better? well... maybe not sactioning people climbing about on them would be a start, but more than that... ?

PS. Glenkiln is a beautiful spot and also has sculpture by Rodin and Epstein. Well worth a visit if you are ever in Galloway.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:40 pm
by Closet Classicist
Sounds great Sharon. Never been to that part of Galloway. Will make a mental note to visit! In a former life it was an Henry Moore sculpture that got me started in this architecture lark. Rodin and Epstein are amongst my favourites too.

Back to the Glasgow angle. Know what you mean and I don't know what the answer is. Some of the solutions suggested for the Donald Dewar statue just seem daft if not actually making it more dangerous i.e. raise the plinth up to 6 ft above the ground, or put it in a cage. Personally I don't know why they didn't just take their cue from classical sculpture and improve on the original i.e. not give him specs in the first place! Sandy Stoddart goes on about this all the time. Would have nipped the problem in the bud. It is a tough call though. That cone is just so central to my perception of Glasgow and its culture. Perhaps we just have to accept that something will get vandalised and when it does, it has to be repaired. By contrast it is interesting how the Kenny Hunter's statue of the fire fighter at Central Station / Gordon Street never gets vandalised (but instead gets bouquets) and yet both it and Donald Dewar were unveiled at the same time! At the risk of sounding corny perhaps people are aware of the meaning of true sacrifice and so respect it more? Anyone know what happened to Lobby Dosser? Haven't been up Woodlands Road in yonks. Did it get repaired or has it been lost? Would be a crying shame if its gone for good. Sculpture makes a city. Glasgow wouldn't be Glasgow without its sculpture. It will be interesting to see what Ray Mackenzie has to say on the subject at his AHSS lecture next month.



PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 5:26 pm
by escotregen
This discussion reminds me of a similar one elsewhere recently. That debate was around what constitutes 'heritage'. I suggested that it could be brand new objects and need not just be old stuff. I said that the damage to Dewar's statue showed an immediate popular assimilation of the statue.
However, I recall last year at a seminar being struck by the arguments of an artist from the Castlemilk community (Note; not an artist in the Community). She had been commissioned to design and install a piece of public sculpture in the locality. Her argument was that the proof of the 'success' of the sculpture was the fact that it was not vandalised, apart from some minor vandalism.
My personal view is outmoded and fuddy duddy it seems; vandalism is just that, its destructive, an act of ignorance and usually pretty sad stuff. Now vandalism done to something specific as a conscious act of protest against wrong from a position of powerlessness... that's more problematic

(Hope this is OK - something odd happened with my first attempt at a reply on this. My screen said it had been submitted but it did not appear)

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 6:01 pm
by Closet Classicist
It is an interesting point escotregen. That's what I meant by my illustration of Kenny Hunter's Fireman statue. It seems to be imbued with an instant respect i.e. if anything did happen to it I bet members of the public would intervene. It has 'connected' at an emotional level with its audience and is therefore arguably a success as a work of 'art'. Again it is interesting to contrast this with the Millenium spaces provided in the City of Architecture year in 1999. Compare the Whiteinch one with the one in Govanhill. The Whiteinch one is highly vandalised whereas the Govanhill one with its doocot is much loved. Somehow the one designer had the sensitivity and empathy to connect in Govanhill and the other didn't and it shows! Maybe the people thought they were being patronised and reacted accordingly? But as you say just because something didn't connect with its initial audience does that make it a bad piece of art? Perhaps the Whiteinch one would have been better appreciated for its qualities and less vandalised elsewhere?

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 6:39 pm
by Apollo
I agree that the philosophical points raised here make a lot of sense, but I also tend to think there is a fundamental flaw in their application to those involved in the acts discussed. Specifically that the mindset and agenda of those involved is in any way the same as that of those in HG.

While there may be one or two highly principled individuals who see these items as a legitimate target and a means to gain some sort of publicity/notoriety, anyone I've had the misfortune to meet who has vandalised public items has been drunk, dared or just plain bad, and happy to spoil others enjoyment to get a kick.

The other group comprises the thieves, and these seem to fall into two caregories: one lot that steal to order or in the the hope they'll find a buyer in one of their past clients, and the others that steal items for themselves. These can be surprisingly ordinary folk, as I've found when passing back gardens I shouldn't have really have been that near to, when doing a bit of UrbEx.

Anyway, my real point is: don't think like yourself when trying to work out the reason/motivation, it won't work. Get into your subject's mind, and try and think like them.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 8:09 pm
by escotregen
I don't think I was thinking on 'too lofty' a level; after all I said:
"My personal view is outmoded and fuddy duddy it seems; vandalism is just that, its destructive, an act of ignorance and usually pretty sad stuff."

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 9:32 pm
by Schiehallion
Closet Classicist wrote:Some of the solutions suggested for the Donald Dewar statue just seem daft if not actually making it more dangerous

I'd solve it overnight. Tie a rope to the back bumper of my Clio and 'Saddam' it.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 10:26 pm
by Apollo
escotregen wrote:Apollo,
I don't think I was thinking on 'too lofty' a level; after all I said:
"My personal view is outmoded and fuddy duddy it seems; vandalism is just that, its destructive, an act of ignorance and usually pretty sad stuff."

Oops, did I ramble a bit? It was supposed to read as supportive of that para, as I think I'm in the same outmoded and fuddy duddy (minority) group. At least that's what I seem to get hints of when I scoff at the "It's a cry for help" excuses.

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 1:09 am
by turbozutek
Electrify the sculptures.

They are made of metal anyways.


PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 9:48 am
by Apollo
Whack 'em all onto Tesla coils and make brilliant nightime sculptures.

Of course, you could use one of Mr. Tesla's well known versions as an alternative

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 5:59 pm
by Bruce
There was an article about it in this mornings Metro (the font of all knowledge) and it was saying that copycat cones were appearing on other statues (incl old Donald).

I think you have to draw a line somewhere. The Duke of Wellington is fair game (it traditional and all that), but to stick cones on other statues is just mindless copying. I would be so bothered if they were a bit more inventive with their adornments - like the grass mohican that Churchill got a couple of years ago.

Anyway - back to the Duke - The traffic cone is now part of Glasgow’s heritage. As our former Lord Provosts will testify (although maybe that's not much of a testimonial).

And BTW what the f*** has the Duke of Wellington got to do with Glasgow?

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 6:06 pm
by Sharon
He has monuments to him everywhere... bringing an end to the Napoleonic wars did lead him to being widely feted....

I guess there were probably many Glaswegians involved in the wars?

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 6:12 pm
by Sharon
Its perhaps not entirely appropriate to be one of Glasgows most iconic images....

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 6:26 pm
by Bruce
Granted - he did lead the army that finally defeated old Boney, but the "iron duke" was a bit of a Tory B*st*rd and wasn't much liked by the general public - thus his nickname.