Saturday, November 28, 2009

The French Connection


Outside Cardiff Library a massive piece of modern sculpture is being installed. It's a large arrow-like column with a hoop leaning against it. The hoop will be filled with liquid that will have 'a phosphorous glow' at night. Also at night, projectors installed within the arrow will project words in English and Welsh on to the ground.

It was designed by a Frenchman and is being installed by French engineers.

As you would expect there is some resentment that a Welsh artist wasn't chosen to produce something.

The official blurb says, "The monumental sculpture was commissioned following a national competition to find the right piece of artwork that would fit well within the city and become a new landmark. A total of 120 responses were received from artists across the globe with just 5 artists shortlisted for the opportunity. Jean-Bernard Metais' 'Alliance' was eventually chosen for the task because his response to the brief stood out as the best."

I would quote more but I'm losing the will to live.

So if it was a "national" competition, did that mean Wales or the UK?

Seems it's an irrelevant question because responses were received from around the globe.
Doesn't make sense to me.

Anyway, I've been watching it going up from the 4th floor window of the library, where I sit. The other day the artist and the project manager were sat next to me watching the installation. I was going to chat to them about it but they were talking to each other in French. I can sound like a French person but I can't actually speak French so I left them alone.

When on site, the project manager wore the obligatory hard hat and vis-vest ... but with white wellies! Very French. And at lunch time he and his workers have a glass of wine!

One side of me is cross that there was deemed to be no Welsh proposal that was good enough. But maybe that's because the art-scene in Wales isn't of an international standard. I don't know.

But another side of me thinks it's cool that Wales is a European nation, and Cardiff is a European city, and so this sense of internationalism in the arts may be appropriate.

So maybe I'll start calling myself a European artist.

Especially if it means I can wear white wellies and drink wine at lunch time.

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