Out to supper last week I overheard a fellow English guest, call him Michael, mention the Pangolin foundry, bit of a red rag. My immediate neighbour told me that Michael is a popular sculptor back in Angleterre, I immediately tried to shrink behind my asparagus knowing in my bones this was no longer a good place for me to be. Well I'd got the name and knew some of the work. The inevitable happened and a good way down the claret and approaching the cheese I heard a voice announcing that Michael and I should have a lot in common, I winced but I had been skewered and there was no wriggle room. I replied that there was little point in Michael visiting my work, as I knew his work and there was no chance of any worthwhile dialogue passing between us. Gunfight at the O.K. corral, but a bright young thing stepped in, a fire fight was avoided and the assault on the cheese continued. I have waxed about the Pangolin before and see no point in going down that path again, but they have facilitated the proliferation of a particular type of public sculpture that is entirely vacuous and devoid of any artistic merit whatsoever. I have no problem with figurative sculpture, Rodin's 'Balthus' fills my eye and soul, when Ralph Brown created the 'Meat Porters' for Harlow it was a revelation and when public sculptures were condemned by worthy councillors we always knew we were on the right path. But the way has been lost, the plethora of public sculpture sweeping the land begins no conversations, sets forth no arguments, asks no questions and makes no comment on our humanity. The lifelike, lifeless figurines littering our public places offer a saccharine sweet and sentimental celebration of worthy celebrities who in the main deserve more challenging memorials. Most of these contemporary commissions are barely fit to grace the foyers of Las Vegas casinos. The artisans who create them would better spend their time working for the waxworks.
AGED AND AWKWARD