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Wednesday 30 January 2008

"Does Britain need an Angel of the South?"

The Angel of the North.

Go to The Guardian Poll next week, and you will be able to add your vote to what will no doubt become a lively debate on the above question - always supposing, of course, that you are happy to reduce the issue to a straight forward yes or no. Either way, now is the time to get the thinking done, in order to make your contribution that much more valuable.

Personally, I think it all depends on what sort of angel. The brief tends to suggest an intention to upstage the Angel of the North. Is that why it has to be so much taller - taller, in fact "than any public statue in Britain bar the cockade on top of Nelson's hat"? At that sort of size, and taking into account its position overlooking the two motorways and railway bringing entrants into the country, it surely needs to be a welcoming angel and one that represents something appropriate. Something along the lines of America's Statue of Liberty, perhaps. Angels are supposed to be intermediaries, are they not? (Not that I would want to suggest a line of thought!) I just hope that we do not end up looking at a human thingy with wings. (No, you didn't hear me whisper "Angel of the North"!)

There remains one point that can be made on behalf of The Angel of the South: its would-be creators are engaged in a competitive tendering process to land the commission. That can only be good for the future of art - or would be if the process became more widely adopted. Mr Purnell, when minister for arts, talked about the possibility of a new renaissance. The last one was fuelled by commissions, not by public hand-outs. Patronage and/or competitive tendering must be preferable to the latter. With either of them, the public would at least be able to see what it was getting for its money - and register its approval or otherwise. It would indeed be getting something - and if the result proved unacceptable, it could always be sold on ebay!

Either way, have a look at The Guardian Poll next week, and meanwhile, why not debate the issue here?

In case you think it relevent:

  • The Angel will cost £2M

  • It will be sited at Ebbsfleet, Kent

  • It will rise 164ft above gravel workings, the two motorways and the Channel Tunnel rail link.

1 comment:

Conda Douglas said...

Good heavens, Dave. An angel of the south? Well, all I can say, as an American, is that I'm glad to see other countries have their own forms of this type of um, insanity? And I agree, patronage and competition for a commission is a better way than the government deciding about art. (Where I live in the States, there is an enormous cross, two stories high that lights up, on a hill overlooking town that used to be on public land and suffice it to say is no longer public land.)