It's Bonkers - Reaction to The Face of Sutton Manor

the dream st helens sutton manor collieryWork has already started on The Dream – an enormous white bust of a woman's head that will stand 20 metres tall alongside the M62 motorway at St Helens.

The Dream has been commissioned from a Spanish sculptor by St Helens Borough Council with cash from The North-West Regional Development Agency (NWDA).

NWDA is the government-funded quango that is meant to create jobs and stimulate the economy in the North West.

But critics say taxpayers money would have been better spent in creating jobs in the town where more than 5,000 are jobless.

June Lornie director of the Liverpool Academy of Arts said, "This is supposed to be an iconic sculpture but it says nothing at all about the area.

"The artist clearly did not do much research into the history of St Helens or he would have come up with something in glass.

"There are hundreds of local artists who could have done much better job for a lot less."

North-West Lib-Dem MP John Pugh said: "The backers of this project seem to be aiming for some kind of Angel of the North phenomenon but they're way off.

"All too often projects like this build up momentum and are waved-through without any proper consideration for what it will look like or what ordinary people really want."

Southport MP Dr Pugh added: "Creating new jobs in the North West would keep this money in the local economy.

"Instead we are getting a folly with a large proportion of the funding going to a Spanish artist.

"It shows a lack of realism about what is required to tackle economic regeneration in the North West."

Locals in St Helens have mixed opinions about 'The Dream' which has been designed by award-winning artist Jaume Plensa at his studio in Barcelona and is being built on a hill in "Community Woodland" – a former spoil heap at the Sutton Manor Colliery which was closed in 1991.

Janet Jones, 56, whose home in Union Bank Lane, overlooks the site said, "It's bonkers. We will have to look out at this every day and it will stick out like a sore thumb. It's huge and it's white, it will look totally out of place with the trees around it. It will be a blot on the landscape and will probably end-up covered in graffiti."

The sculpture will be assembled from 90 blocks that are being cast at a concrete works in the East Midlands.

Catherine Braithwaite, spokesperson for "The Dream" project said, "This is going to be an iconic structure. Its had a really positive response from local people.

"We've taken a model of the sculpture around local libraries and had really positive feedback.

"Obviously it is a lot of money, but we have to be completely sure that this is a top quality piece of work, and it's not going to fall apart."

Peter Mearns, executive director at the North West Development Agency was keen to point-out that NWDA had not decided the nature of the sculpture.

He said, "We've provided the funding to redevelop the land, but we haven't been involved in choosing the actual artwork.

"Hopefully The Dream will stimulate local pride and generate regional identity."


windpower said...

I have just been up to see the piece as i live close to it.It certainly is very immpressive,i particularily liked the slight glitter within the concretework, (marble chippings i read) that reflect in the sunshine.
Also very glad we found an E.C.artistforsuch a lovely piece.
Shame little/nothing was done to help the Miners back in the 1980's, when Tories wasted 60 Billion smashing their Industry and their'dreams'!.
Glad we have this nevertheless!.

Anonymous said...

After reading a number of comments on a number of different sites it is obvious and predictable that there are mixed feeling about the work. A project like this always triggers the anti-art brigade to get their fingers on the keyboards to make usually poorly thought through comments about the finances they don't really understand. It is such a pity that the negative is often a much more powerful motivator in some peoples head than the positive. The fact is that economic and cultural regeneration goes together. There needs to be good reason to attract business and money to an area. St Helens which has for so long been in the economic doldrums needs every positive message it can generate.

Art and design is a primary force in economic success. It is not simple about objects either it's about the ambiance of a place and about the attitudes which are held by the people in a place.

2 million pounds could have been spent on many other things... it's an endless list, however, in the great scheme of national budgets the amount which is spent on the arts in the UK is minuscule.

Decline in British industry in the 20 century was to large part due to poor investment in research and development. This included investment in design and the arts in general. This short-sightedness has for too long been a constraint on success.

We have in the UK one of the most respected Art, Design and Media education systems in the world. We also have one of the most unadventurous, conservative and immature set of attitudes towards art and design in the world.

The fact is art galleries are incredibly popular and many derive something far more important than the money spent on them. They are faced by ideas and concepts that often challenge them, maybe make them feel uneasy because of its difference. Well unfortunately British industry was for too long uneasy with the idea of change, challenge and innovation and the decline followed.

The devastation in the mining communities was a catastrophe and there does need to be recognition of this. But the challenge is to recover from that, change, adapt and build something new. A conservative, unadventurous attitude is the last thing you need to achieve this.