Why is so much of public art so bad? This is not something that has bothered me in the past. I look at the statues of the great and the good (and the not so) scattered around the streets and squares of London and they don't cause me any undue discomfiture. Queen Victoria is over-represented to my mind as are the military. Although since until recently we seemed to spend quite a lot of time beating up the rest of the world I shouldn't be surprised if Field Marshals and Generals on or off horse back look down on us all across this great capital of ours.
No, what's sparked off my indignation is the new Lennon "memorial" in Liverpool. I'm not sure how I feel about Lennon. If it started and ended with his songs and the Beatles I'd die happy, but so much more has accreted around the man. But, this tacky piece of nonsense is no way to celebrate a word-smith of genius.
The Lennon mishap is the most recent in a long line of public art disasters.
An even bigger blot on the landscape is Anish Kapoor's dysfunctional dna piece which suggests that an alien has defecated on the 2012 Olympic site. My main criticism is that it's just so old hat. It is neither forward looking or invoking a great past, it's just a large piece of rusting metal.
It's big, I grant you that and that's the con. It's achievement is it's size: and that is meant to win us over. That's all it has going for it - it's big. Much in the same way the Lennon monument is meant to win us over in its fluffiness, its good vibes; this giant expects you to fall for its size and its de-constructed vacuousness. It offers nothing other than a reflection of Olympic Committee's misplaced sense of their own stature.
"Arria", a 33 foot installation, is a flummery with twinkle. Cumbernauld is one of the disasters of central planning. It is not somewhere you'd voluntarily go to live. How does this piece of nonsense speak to the people of that benighted "experiment".
Listen to Councillor Gerry McElroy, the politician responsible for this piece of irrelevance: "We're all really looking forward to driving by her on the main road that bisects Cumbernauld and hope that she becomes an iconic landmark for the town."
Oh, and 70,000 commuters will see the statue every day. Well that all fine and dandy then.
I think we deserve more. Nothing here does anything other than titillate. They're all tokens, gestures. Nothing too dangerous; the frisson of a Turner Prize winner providing the requisite "edge". They are commissioned by committees who appear to be completely disconnected from the reality they claim they are trying to capture. What we get is a slap in the face - second no, third best and a sense of a great opportunity gone begging.
For my part I would gladly see "The Angel of the North" everyday. It has everything the others don't. It is strong, it is powerful, it is loved. It is anchored and has found a home on its site above the remains of a colliery.