Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Already rusting: Greenland Dock's one-month old Sustrans sculpture

For heaven's sake.  Did no-one think of giving the wretched thing a damned good coating of Hammerite?  The Sustrans sculpture, which has only been in place for a few weeks, is rusting already.

You can see the photographs that I took of it when it was brand-new, less than a month ago, on 13th August, by way of comparison. 

Not having walked past it recently I hadn't noticed the rust but several people, who know of my interest in local public art, mentioned it to me. So I went to have a look, camera in hand. 

Top left is the top of Michael Caine's head. The other two are random shots of other details of the thing. Click any of them to see a bigger view of the problem. What a mess.  If anything, the second photograph is the worst of the lot, showing the top layer flaking off to leave the unprotected metal beneath that is clearly exposed to the invasive rust.  To be honest, I didn't much like the sculpture before it started rusting, but that really didn't bother me because public art is a very personal thing and I daresay many people thought it was great.  But whether you loved it or loathed it when it first went up, it is now beginning to look like a serious eyesore.  And of course it's going to get worse, because rust doesn't have the habit of growing any prettier as it spreads.

If organizations are going to build public art structures where everyone can see them, and hopefully appreciate them, then both they and the Southwark Council planning officers who give them permission to erect them really out to be tasked with applying a little basic quality control.  At the absolute minimum, surely there is a responsibility to make sure that public art isn't built of materials that begin to make them look like something derelict within weeks of being erected?

Both Sustrans and Southwark Council should be ashamed of themselves, and you do have to wonder about the sculptor who allowed it to be erected in such a sub-standard condition.  Horribly disappointing and profoundly underwhelming. 

Previous posts on the subject (most recent first):

The official opening of the Sustrans portrait bench and the PedalOnUk event

The new Sustrans portrait bench at Greenland Dock

A planning proposal for a new sculpture at Brunswick Quay


Anonymous said...

Ive just written a letter to Southwark News about this, following Andys letter. I have already been on to Sustrans about the problem I outline. They say it is Southwark contractors who have mis-positioned the statues. Im not sure if Sustrans are pestering Southwark - they should be. Anyway, heres my letter:
The problem with the new Sustrans sculpture at Greenland Dock is not just one of rusting. Southwark Council contractors completely ignored Sustrans plans when they positioned the statues. The result is that there is very little bum room, ie space to sit on the bench, because the statues of the man and woman are right up against the bench. I suspect Barry Mason, whom one of the statues represents, would have had something to say about the bench not actually being fit for purpose. He was a big fan of common sense, was Barry. Are Southwark Council going to have a proper look at Sustrans drawings and reposition the statues so we can actually sit on the bench?
Jane Dent

Andie said...

Dear Jane. I didn't know that the position of the statues was incorrect, and I very much appreciate you getting in touch. The statues have really has been a bit of a fiasco all round. Andie