Dulltown, Europe: Today’s wrinkled old black and white snapshot is the one of me and Humphrey Bogart sitting on the hood of an Oldsmobile holding bottles of beer in 1946. (Olds)
Last week I was in the city of Leeds, about 60 miles west of Dulltown. Up the hill on the Headrow, and in front of the Henry Moore Institute, I noticed someone had placed a very large red-painted steel sculpture. You couldn’t really miss it, it was big, and it was bright.
I discovered that it is part of an exhibition, Caro in Yorkshire (18 July – 1 November 2015) celebrating the work of British sculptor Sir Anthony Caro (1924-2013).
Very nice it looked too, but… er…
You see, the Headrow is on a hill, which slopes away to the left as you face the H M Institute. This of course means that the pavement slopes. However they have cheerfully placed the sculpture, Aurora (2000-2003), straight onto it, so that Aurora is also not level, as you might think a sculpture should be, but sits at a bit of an angle. Here’s a picture I took of it.
This is the view from outside the H M Institute; see how the steps in front of us are level, and the buildings in the background are vertical and level, but poor old Anthony’s piece… well, to me, it looks a bit silly, it looks like an old steam engine sweating and struggling to get up the hill – you could almost imagine it giving up, and sliding off out of shot to the right.
Perhaps I’m getting needlessly upset… Perhaps the truck had just delivered it, and it is waiting for some chaps to turn up with a spirit level, some jacks, and a few old wooden railway sleepers to slip under one end to make things right?
I was never a great fan of Caro’s work, but I do feel sorry for him; I think he’d be rather annoyed if he were still around to see this.
This is a bit like hanging your favourite Rembrandt crooked on your wall. Imagine if you were installing a big Henry Moore bronze Reclining Figure on a nice piece of wild wild windswept undulating moorland, and you didn’t bother flattening the ground off where you thought that you might put it… It would look like someone had dumped it there…
Here’s another picture I took, this time from the other side, and with the camera deliberately angled to give us a feel of what Tony’s work should look like. (Note the ’tilted’ buildings.)
I wonder, back when they had the meeting to decide where they were going to place this piece, whether someone timidly raised his/her hand, and said, ‘Excuse me, it’ll be on a hill, it won’t be level…’
But then, perhaps I’m being premature in going on about this – perhaps they will come back and raise it up at one end – I hope so…