Mercurial by Alexander Stoddart

Mercurial by Alexander Stoddart
Mercurial by Alexander Stoddart

On a recent return trip to the fascinating city of Glasgow, I was disappointed to find the historic Merchant City area defiled by this particularly egregious example of public art. The subject of public art has been a personal bugbear of mine ever since I discovered its hit and miss existence. Unfortunately, there seems to be a preponderance of very bad art situated in places where people can’t feasibly avoid it.

I had no idea what this was, who the artist was and why it had been dumped there. It turns out to be the ‘work’ of an Alexander Stoddart, a trenchant proponent of classical-type sculpture who is audacious enough to force his appalling models on an unsuspecting public. Apparently, Edinburgh paid £120,000 for a bronze of David Hume which now desecrates their beautiful city centre. So he must be regarded by some in authority. Anyway, there are a few of his figures dotted around in Glasgow by way of some thematic connection to the local Italian Centre.

Apart from the dubiety of working in a steadfastly classical manner at the turn of the 21st century the obvious problem with this piece is how badly it has aged. The thing was completed in 1989 and already it is looking terrible. What irks me the most is the idea of going to the trouble of making something in metal and then coating it in plastic. The skin is peeling off, no doubt assisted by some of the more disgruntled locals. They have also further expressed their disapproval by attaching stickers.

But what really perplexes and upsets me most is why they welded a little yellow metal penis onto a different type of metal body!

Mercurial by Alexander Stoddart (detail)
Mercurial by Alexander Stoddart (detail)

I would provide a link to www.alexanderstoddart.com but it only takes you to some Chinese holding page.

Rag and Bone

Rag and Bone

I am highly ambivalent (to say the very least) about the majority of free-standing public sculpture but this humble beauty just catches the attention and makes you ponder. It is unusually powerful stuff in a city where the majority of public art thoroughly deserves its site.

Rag and Bone (Hemlös Räv) is a sculpture in Stockholm by English artist Laura Ford. After consultation with the people of Stockholm it was decided to place this exquisite little bronze right next to the government buildings. Can you imagine such a thing in Downing Street or Capitol Hill? It is a constant reminder to the Swedish people in power that their work is incomplete. Begging was historically a rare sight in Sweden but sadly it becoming more common today.

Swedish Public Sculpture

Non-Violence

This is a classic piece of public sculpture we came across walking through the cold winter streets of Gothenburg, one of many casts around the world and one of ten in Sweden. It is called Non-Violence by Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd and has become a famous symbol of the peace movement. Apparently Carl was deeply affected by the murders of John Lennon and the drummer Bob Crane. I can testify that as a tender young person I was deeply disturbed by the premature death of Lennon and took the day of school because I was too depressed to go in. Since then I have sometimes wondered if he was just too much of an irritant to the global establishment. An even more depressing thought...

Två Myror
Två Myror (Two ants), 2014, bronze, 9 m width 2.5 m, height of 12m.

"Go to the ant, thou sluggard, see how she's doing and be wise" Proverbs 6: 6

Again, I can't say I am ordinarily fond of giant sculptures of animals but these ants by Torgny Larsson are exceptional in concept and execution.

This from the artist:

"I wanted to not only remove the company logo to a three-dimensionally portrayed little story but also pull up the ants' world to the human scale and bring the design to the scientific careful studies of the red forest ant, Formica rufa.
In the preface to the book "ants life," published in 1910, the author wrote Gottfrid Adlerz about "Many fanciful stories can be written about the ants but none are as stunning as the real study of the ants 'life'."

Två Myror (detail)

Kelvingrove Park Sculpture

Kelvingrove sculpture, along the river

I love this local sculpture only when it is in a state of refurbishment. It's very interesting to see the poor tree-guy trapped inside a secure tent and trying to poke a hole in the roof with his branch arms. Much less interesting when he isn't. Maybe they should leave it like this permanently. No chance of that I suppose... The council would never recognise accidental great art when they see it.