So what’s this all about?


I truly would like to feel more enthusiastic about this monumental piece of public art. I mean I can see it is interesting – in its way – and the more so with the application of some photo editing. This has at least relieved us of the sickly mud-brown colour. Also the cast concrete takes on a little more texture than seems apparent in the original. But perhaps the most serious problem with this sculpture is its setting – squeezed into a little triangle of municipal garden between Shrewsbury town’s inner ring road and the River Severn.

And so given that its siting was down to town councillors, and not to the artist whom they commissioned to do the work at great public expense, I tried approaching the work from different angles. As you can see, it is incredibly well made:


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I even tried including some human interest, but this next shot only added to the sense of crammed in-ness, with too many planters, and a poorly situated  explanatory panel:


And so what do you think this work is commemorating? (I know that at least one person who reads this blog knows it person). Otherwise, all answers on a postcard to the secret WordPress post box.

Before I go, I will at least tell you that it is something very important, and relates to all of life on this planet, and that all may well be revealed in an upcoming post.

 copyright 2015 Tish Farrell

Please also drop in on Black & White Sunday, where this week Paula’s theme is sculpture.

35 thoughts on “So what’s this all about?

  1. Extraordinary contribution from you, Tish. I have already seen this marvel in photos before, but I will not tell what it is to avoid spoiling it for other viewers. Thank you.

  2. My original thought was a dinosaur skeleton, but maybe its a stylised version of DNA given your clue. It’s definitely too cramped. An appropriate expansive location would have been better.

    1. Oh, I like it. Dead fish by the River Severn. Some councillors, and other Shropshire people also called it a white elephant and other less polite things – more of which anon 🙂

  3. It definitely needs spacious parkland surrounds, and you’ve intrigued me about what it commemorates. Your photos do the sculpture itself justice, texture and shape, but the first one really demonstrates its crampedness. I await revelation (if I can resist google)!

  4. from the first picture it reminded me of. dinosaur. and your text gave me the idea of DNA. I could see from the other comments, I am not the only one having this impression.
    Anyhow, interesting texture.

  5. I think it’s ugly. Maybe everyone will hate it and they will remove it? It has happened around here, that a piece of monumental sculpture is sufficiently disliked that it’s easier to get rid of it than keep fighting with the residents. You can hope, anyway.

  6. I know what it is supposed to represent. I think it’s great. But I totally agree, its location doesn’t do it justice. We have the quarry for one thing – couldn’t they have found space for it there?

  7. I think your photos and the angles you have chosen and changing it to BnW, you have made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear Tish. Now the tune “What’s it all about Alfie” is going round and round in my head (I’m tempted to put a YouTube link!!! but I’m sure you know the song…) I also thought dinosaur and if they have spent so much money on it I agree they should give it a more expansive location. I will wait with baited breath for the answer. Do the ones that guess right get a free trip to see it???

  8. I love it, but funny how art can find itself misplaced and under-served; I think this about one of my favorite musicians, who plays soft, quiet music and often gets drowned out in rock festivals with sidestream music from other tents. I thought of a fish bone when I saw this, with the vertebrae as another person commented on, here. I like the larger notion of placing art in its right time and space; sounds like this doesn’t quite fit its locale. And I’ve been noodling about how we crop things literally through photo editing and what we leave out, in relaying details of our lives through writing — finding the right space for it, the right setting.

    1. Now that is some very interesting noodling. Suddenly ‘the setting’ is more than ‘context’. Setting can be manipulated, engineered, truncated. You think it’s giving you a ‘true view’ when it’s actually ‘setting out’ to deceive. I need to go away and noodle on this too now. Btw I’ve just posted the follow-up on this piece.Wishing you a lovely day.

      1. Yes, lovely day it is! Journeying into Stuttgart here to the English shop, for a large map of the UK so as to pin up our desired destinations, oh joy! Interesting, about Darwin: and reading about the German enlightenment, there’s a demarcation pre- and post-Darwin…you should be proud he’s a Shropshire lad.

  9. So where is this then Tish? Alongside the river by the looks of it. But from photos I can’t work out if it is near the Welsh or English bridge. I haven’t been in to Shrewsbury since 2009 for a proper walk around and it wasn’t there then.

    1. If you cross the Welsh Bridge from Frankwell into town, there’s a triangular garden on the left, between the river and the road, more less opposite the foot of Mardol. When we went I just remember the nightmare of crossing the road from Mardol to get to it – another reason why you wouldn’t make it a destination of choice. The garden has also been made into ‘a geology garden’ with plaques on the path representing the 9 (I think) geological periods represented in Shropshire. Again, an interesting idea, but why there? This is what happens when Councils start having ‘good ideas’ but don’t think things through, or consult the right people to advise them.

      1. Mmm… I remember that bit of ‘parkland’. Not an obvious choice for such a large sculpture, which I agree, would have looked far better in bronze to develop a patina. The obvious place would have been in the Quarry parkland surely as lots of people walk and cycle along the river there. I have never understood why Shropshire Tourist Board doesn’t make more of advertising the county as it has a lot to offer, but most Brits don’t even know where it is! Other than those who pass through on their way to Wales. Definitely missing a trick.

      2. I have an inkling that Shropshire Council has just dispensed with the Tourism Officer(s). Duh! And Double Duh! Just as they have dispensed with most of their best curatorial and building conservation staff. The age of philistinism is upon us. We have councillors who do not know that the arts, and heritage are not only worthwhile for themselves, but do help to boost the economy, and attract visitors.

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