‘Weird roadside pieces of art are signs of the times’

September 12, 2019

 

TOTEM SIGN: This way-marking sign on Holes Bay Road in Poole points walkers and cyclists to their destinations. This was commissioned by the local authorities but unlike the Wicker Man in Devon, some may argue that there are not many cultural links to Dorset

 

 

PUBLICLY FUNDED: The Wicker Man by artist Serena de la Hay was unveiled to mark the MIllennium and is on the A38. It was burnt down by arsonists eight months later and was rebuilt for October 2001 with a moat put in to prevent a re-occurrence. It was used to promote the willow industry. Picture by Philip Halling.

 

 

LOOK AROUND: “Some of it is distasteful and it is designed to chew away at your mentality. It is genuinely unsettling. Some of it is distasteful and it is designed to chew away at your mentality you travel and you’re going in and around cities, keep your eyes opened and you will see some pretty appalling artwork and it has suddenly appeared over the last five years in particular.” – Brian Gerrish of the UK Column.
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A CAMPAIGNER against corruption claims specially commissioned and Government-funded roadside art is being used the distort the public’s sense of reality.

Speaking to the Glastonbury Symposium in April of this year, truth campaigner Brian Gerrish of the UK Column site claims that there have been a number of art pieces have been put in public spaces through taxpayers money – often next to main roads – and could distort the viewer’s sense of reality.

‘Wicker Man unveiled during the Millennium’

Anyone travelling down the A380 in Devon will see the “Willow Man” commissioned by Serena de la Hay for Arts South West in 2000 to celebrate the Millennium and was the “Year of the Artist”.

The Willow Man was unveiled in September 2000 to mark the MIllennium and it stands 12 metres high with a five metre arm span and is made of black maul willow withies over a three-tonne steel frame.

Eight months later, the sculpture was attacked by an arsonist and De la Hay rebuilt it for October 2001 and to prevent subsequent attacks on it, a 40-metre circular moat was excavated around it.

The film The Wicker Man starring Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee from 1973 will be remembered by older readers and the storyline if anyone can recall is rather depressing.

‘It was rebuilt four months after arson attack’

Gerrish said: “It was spent with public money and when they needed for it to be refurbished, they spent another £25,000 on it. When it was burnt down, they paid to have it rebuilt.

“There are other weird arts works appearing around the country. Some of these art pieces young children find quite disturbing. There is a piece of art work in the shape of oak leaves up in Wales but when you see them out of context, it distorts your sense of reality.”

‘Totem poles record history of Indian tribes’

Totem poles are linked to American Indian culture and they were made to tell the story or record the history of a tribe. They can portray family legends and lineage, spirituality, sacred or mythological beings and culturally important animals.

Miniature versions have been made in the form of totem signs or signposts and they sometimes have some of the four colours of the totem pole – red, blue, yellow and white. They all represent the directions of the world – north, east, west and south.

Some of these totem signs can be found in the form of sign posts with an anchor shaped on them on roads around in the Poole area. Is North American culture linked to Dorset’s history, unlike the willow industry that was used to make the Willow Man?

‘Wicked Willy in High Street is actually a phallus’

Gerrish said “There is another piece of artwork in a shopping centre up in Basingstoke and the local children have got it ‘weighed off’ to use a naval expression as they call it ‘the Wicked Willy’.

“And you laugh, and actually it is a phallus and it suddenly appeared in a shopping centre and you ask ‘why’ and who paid for it.

“And if you talk to people and you keep your eyes open as you go around the country you will see more and more of this artwork appearing.

“These are totem poles outside a boatyard in Plymouth and there a lot of totem poles that have appeared around the city of Plymouth. This isn’t accidental.

“This art work has a purpose. It is genuinely unsettling. Some of it is distasteful and it is designed to chew away at your mentality.”

‘Some of these pieces of art are unsettling’

Gerrish tells the viewer to observe their surroundings particularly driving along mainside roads and to visualize  art work that is designed to grab the driver’s attention.

“You may not believe what I’m saying to you at the moment but I would say to you, when this art work has a purpose. It is genuinely unsettling.

“Some of it is distasteful and it is designed to chew away at your mentality you travel and you’re going in and around cities, keep your eyes opened and you will see some pretty appalling artwork and it has suddenly appeared over the last five years in particular.”

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