Wednesday, 26 November 2003

Arts , Comment

Ashamed of art

The Navigator

Every year for the past twelve, one day in the summer has been named Ipswich Music Day: a day when five big stages are erected in the park in Suffolk's county town, and local bands compete for the attention of the crowds.

This year, Ipswich Music Day was the centrepiece of a new two-week arts festival, Ip-art. Music, theatre, visual arts, film and even architecture... at last it seemed that Ipswich was taking art seriously.

Until today.

Today I stumbled upon The Navigator - a large-scale new sculpture unveiled during Ip-art 2003. The piece itself is rather majestic: a bold curve of rust-coloured steel flanked by stunted arms and mounted on a pair of wheels. The whole effect is a cross between a chariot and a swan, an intriguing combination of shapes.

But its location... a less appropriate location would be hard to imagine. It's sited on the upper banks of the filthy river in an industrial area of town. Its immediate surroundings are wasteland and car-parks. I suspect only a handful of people have ever found the sculpture.

At a time when I thought Ipswich had finally woken up to art, I realised it's actually rather embarrassed by it. Far better to tuck it away where it can do no harm than to risk challenging the public. Far easier to take pride in an outdated Grandma than invest in the bold and the new.

Posted by pab at 21:36