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Monday, 8 December 2008

Public Art

I am a fan of public art particularly when it is done well. The mother and child in Queen's Street, Cardiff is evocative, Anthony Gormley's creations inspirational, but we don't seem to have much luck here in Ceredigion. The 'stairway to nowhere' in Aberystwyth only reminds me of Led Zepplin in their 'stairway to heaven' heyday and in anycase it is safely blue boarded away on health grounds at the moment. Siting a 10m high stairway near the exit from the Students' Union in Aberystwyth was always a strange one particularly at 2am.
This brings me nicely to the 'Big Art' project in Cardigan. Spending several £'000 on a semi permanent colourfully lit buoys that talk back to you was always a dodgy one. If the money is there then spend it on something long lasting and relevant to Cardigan's history and heritage.
I have certain rules that should be obeyed when dealing with public art:-
  • The project has to carry a public consensus;
  • The art object should have a narrative that is relevant to the history and heritage of where it is located;
  • It has to be a permanent feature;
  • People should be allowed to touch and feel it to generate a sense of ownership.

Though I am loathe to criticise, and it doesn't come from any philistinic tendencies, I don't think that the lighted buoys in Cardigan meet any of these rules. A permanent, physical commemoration of 'yr Arglwydd Rhys' and the first Eisteddfod is a better idea will be here in a 68 years time when the 1000th anniversary is celebrated. Time to change some minds.


Anonymous said...

Dear Penri,
I enjoyed reading your blog with regard to public art. I would welcome the chance to discuss this further. I run a company - that runs public art events that seem to fit with your thinking. If this is of interest do contact me on
Kind regards

Penri James said...


I was a student in Bangor, North Wales when so many of Ed Povey's murals were still in place. They were fascinating and did brighten things up.