Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Little Jaunt to Blighty

Living in Italy we had fantasies that we'd be off travelling around all the time, and we have done a little travelling, but not as much as we'd like. There is that pesky little problem of my partner's work assignment and my so-called twenty hour a week job. Please remind me anytime I say I want to work part-time that twenty hours quickly looks like twenty-five and then thirty. Anyway, getting over to Britain (with the exception of a few days for just two of us) has proved difficult.

This weekend we finally made it over as a family. Just for three days, but three really great days. While I sang the praises of Northern England as a tourist destination last time, it isn't going to stop me shouting them now. If there isn't a public art tour of the North there should be. You could even make it a Big Art exhibit. Starting with 'The Dream'. This is a huge sculpture on the old slag heap of the colliery I lived close to during my early childhood. Actually, by American standards I lived in its shadow for about 17years of my life, never moving than about 5 miles away. The colliery was closed in 1991, seriously impacting the already fragile economy of St. Helens (the big glass maker Pilkingtons had already reduced its workforce and Beechams had too.) Apparently, the land was handed over to the Forestry Commission and then after consultation with a group made up of miners and folks from St. Helens a proposal for a sculpture was developed. Commission by Channel 4's Big Art project, the community group didn't want something that looked at the past, they wanted to look forward and to the future and so The Dream by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa is fitting. Twenty meters high, white luminescent stone, the sculpture is the elongated head of a child in dream. Looking out from the top of the slag heap, now with a young forest on it, it looks out over gently rolling hills and was just opened this May. I don't think I ever noticed how pretty and soothing the countryside was there. It is spectacular. Well worth the visit.
The Dream

The Dream

We were on a roll so the next day we went off to see Anthony Gormley's Another Place on the beach at Crosby. One hundred cast-iron figures spread over several kilometers of beach, standing as the tide comes in and moves out. Static and yet not, subject to weathering and becoming quite crusty. This, like The Dream, is fabulous public art; accessible, provoking and stunning. This is the kind of art that can prompt reaction from all ages including a 2 and a bit year old. Plus no stuffy gallery snobs to contend with.
Antony Gormley's Another Place - Blundell Sands & Crosby

You can also add to your visiting list the Tate Liverpool and the The Walker Art Gallery. The latter was where I first saw a real Hockney, larger than life, 30 years on or so it is still etched in my memories. Hey, they even have tours and activities for the very young at the Walker. Next time we're in the area we're going here. What else would you add to your tour of the Northwest, specifically art or not? Mum? Suzanne? Oh and a few last plugs for the North and the Northwest of England.
1. The people are warm and funny
2. It is much cheaper than London and the South
3. The chips/fries are really good.

Oh and the kid picture:

Enjoying her wellies and the sea.
Blundell Sands - Mud, Sand and Art

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea! M never showed me that part of the north. hmmmmmm