“What is not but could be if“. The Parklife exhibition in St. Anne’s Park, which I mentioned before has changed significantly since I posted about it the other week. At that point there had already been significant damage to the sculptures in the park, with John Jones’ piece being set on fire and Maria McKinney’s Trolley Disco being relieved of one of it’s trollies. As one might expect from good things in this city, things went from bad to worse. John Jones’ Study Room was finished off, the rest of the Trolley Disco was destroyed, Niamh Jackman’s work was severely damaged (both by the weather and vandals) and even the gigantic tennis court installed by Carl Giffney was subjected to what must have been a prolonged effort by a gang of disgruntled tennis purists who did their best to bring down the entire structure.
I was out taking down what was left of the tennis court last Friday and got the odd concerned local coming over to tell me that’s “it’s terrible what they done to them”. They’re right, but it’s nothing we didn’t already know. In fairness, that the pieces survived this long is probably an achievement. But when there’s such contempt shown for art-works that are there to be enjoyed by all ages and offer a participatory experience, it’s no wonder that the term “public art” in this country is synonymous with abstract lumps of stone and/or metal that can weather the storm of angry pubescent gangs.
The exhibition will struggle on until it’s planned closing date of 23rd August (that’s this Sunday) with Beth O’Halloran’s textile sculptures and Aideen Barry’s videos/iPod-walking-tour the sole physical survivors. They’re both located in and around the Red Stables building and in the entrance to the gallery space, you’ll find my photos of the other works along with one by John Jones, taken upon completion of the work just before the arson attack. Go, enjoy and watch out for the knackers.