I was struck by the news (see http://www.energyfm.net/cms/news_story_222843.html) that local artists are being invited to submit ideas for ‘public art’ in Laxey and Ramsey. In particular, I was amused by the time at which the government culture muppet planned to introduce the scheme.
Who but the usual gaggle of pensioners and dossers have time to meet some Arts Council bigwig mid-day? And who else would want to anyway?
Back in the 1980’s, I knew the few vaguely competent Manx art pros who still lived here, and they all had day jobs. That wasn’t because the general populace failed to appreciate the arts (not any more than the general populace anywhere else, anyway), but because the only commissions on offer were to produce ambient tat for yuppies or oil paintings of and for the same wealthy inbreeds who run this gaff today. If you were serious, or just had any self-respect, you produced if and when you could for patrons elsewhere and held down some rubbish job to feed your family. Most eventually moved away, leaving the field wide open for the idiot spawn of bankers who now hoover up contemporary art commissions (as none of them can even hold down a cleaning job in Daddy’s office, never mind take over the firm).
So, looks like the Kulchur dumsters are about as serious as they ever were about tarting up the town. And…. oh Lawdy Lawdy…. we do got public art in Ramsey already!
For a start we have the infamous ‘Two crusties playing chess’ sculpture inside our dull if functional Town Hall (though if the sculptor had really been paying attention those fictional figures so finely rendered in stone from some quarry clearance sale would be doing the 10th century equivalent of grumbling about their benefits amongst discarded Special Brew tins, just like their descendants).
Then we have that odd and ugly ‘millennium’ slab outside Shoprite which nobody can figure out or find a use for. Presumably it is meant to signify something Christian (and could only have been approved by an entire committee of godbothering rednecks), but is more like a logo for a dodgy fascist cult - as conceived by the architect of a brutalist 1960’s multi-storey car park or council housing complex.
Oh, and never forget (if only we could!) ‘The Muriel’ in the picnic area by the Swing Bridge, which serves the same purpose as one of those ultrasonic devices meant to deter kids from gathering in public areas. It seems to work. You certainly never see anyone there under the age of 60 and mentally competent enough to dress themselves.
So, what do we make of this latest breathless announcement then?
Can either the talent of today’s generation of artists or the taste of today’s generation of culture bores bring something new and exciting to this town?
That would be a ‘No’.