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 but it only takes you to some Chinese holding page.

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.

The Falköping Bench

The Falköping Bench, 2011

This park bench in the small Swedish town Falköping is like a work of public art just because the seat is missing. It would perfectly belong in any British Sculpture exhibition in the early 70s. There is an optical-illusory quality to the frame when viewed from particular angles. It is now art because I say it is (just kidding)!

Scottish Gallery of Modern Art

I am almost convinced this isn't art but it sure does look like it, especially as it is in the corridor of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. We were standing looking at a large Sol Le Witt drawing on the opposite wall when we noticed this. I just wonder what was going on at the top of the ladder? Name the artist who could have created this little installation.