Whilst visiting Che Tibby's place (for Proust fans, that would be du côté de chez Che Tibby) I came across an invective against one of Wellington's public sculptures. And I thought of Auckland's public sculptures.
And, reader, I wept. I wept tears of sardonic laughter. For, while Tanya Ashken's Albatross may not be to everyone's tastes, it is at least recognisibly a work of art. Here in Auckland, we have a statue of Freyberg in the Airfix style, one of Dove Meyer Robinson which is best described as regrettable, a novelty rock and Spiky Red Thing. But, worse still, we have the Five Rams. These were a gift from our twin city, Guangzhou. In Guangzhou, rams look like goats and have udders (or unfeasibly large testicles; take your pick). I suppose it was a gift so we couldn't say no; and it is carved from granite, so it would take an awful lot of plastic explosive to destroy it (if you have an awful lot of plastic explosive, do let me know); but it is not even original: it is a copy. And it disfigures a very pretty park; the things we do for trade preference.
I could go on, but it is difficult to know where to stop. We win this game. When it comes to unintentionally hilarious sculpture, you can't beat Auckland. They should make a tour of the city's sculptures part of the International Comedy Festival. Come, one and all! See the light sculpture in the pavement which symbolises the river which once ran where Queen street stands - the light sculpture which isn't lit. Yes, ladies and Gentlemen, before your very eyes - kitsch abstraction; out-of-service kitsch abstraction! Marvel at the big pointy thing outside Burger King, which marks where the beach once was! Take the Waterfront Art Trail and be amazed by the burning twin towers and the giant hook. Fall over the one with the seabird on a rack!
Yes folks, in Auckland a sculpture of an albatross looks like an albatross. In Auckland, all public sculptures have to represent something, either with plodding realism or wispy abstraction. We can't cope with complexity in Auckland. We don't know much about Art, but we know a lot less about urban design. We like our sculptures to represent things, plainly, without fuss or thinking. So come to Auckland, where everything is obvious!