Saturday, 16 August 2014

Failed commission

A while ago, I put together a proposal for an archway in Lincoln city centre. It wasn't successful. The "curators" were not curators, but Lincoln BIG and city centre traders, so I didn't think I'd stand a chance anyway, and I didn't care that it wasn't successful.
Here is the winning design 
Compared to my proposal, creatively, it isn't all that good.
My proposal was for the arch to be constructed as a street light, so that it could be illuminated at night. Inspired by Simon Periton's lamp outside Firstsite in Colchester
it was designed to reflect the story of Little Sir Hugh, a Lincoln legend about a choirboy that was murdered and thrown down a well, written in song as Child ballad 155
The story is located in the area, and relates to the Jews House, which is at the end of The Strait.

Taking the Steeleye Span song and the legend as a starting point, the illuminated image of Little Sir Hugh with his ball, and falling down (the well or Steep Hill) is incorporated into an archway designed as a bedhead to reflect the lyrics about the winding sheet.
The archway shape also included Lego brick steps to reflect the hill, and to reflect the fact that The Strait is part of The Viking Way, running from Castle Hill down towards the High Street, with Danesgate nearby.

The subtle illumination at night would reflect the Cathedral when it is lit up, so that as you pass under the archway, there is the connection between downhill and uphill.
Someone asked "what next? A neon sign....?" Yes, this draws from Tracey Emin and Kendell Geer's work outside the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo, 2010, but in keeping with the history of the location - a way of introducing contemporary art to a historical location. The choice of gentle white light, rather than anything more "Skegvegas" or  neo-consumerist.

Obviously a rather boring iron archway with simple religious symbols (muslim symbolism appears to have been omitted, despite the fact that a new mosque is being built in the city) is more preferable, and will obviously make people flock up the hill to spend money in the shops there - not - it won't do anything to encourage me to shop there, as I wasn't commissioned. 

In short, I've seen much more innovative works of art commissioned in other cities, and it would be much better to have actual artists / curators commission art work around the city, not those that have no knowledge or experience within the arts.

Any comments about my proposal in comparison to the commissioned work would be welcome.

Update (Nov 2014) An example of a successful piece of neon artwork in another city is this piece in Swansea to commemorate the life and work of Dylan Thomas.

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