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Ilfracombe. Angel of the West? - Public Art

(59 Posts)
isthisallthereis Tue 16-Oct-12 14:04:56


I had no idea this was going up in Ilfracombe! Anyone live there or know it?

It's worked for me, I might actually go there now next time I'm in the West Country (and buy a cup of tea, a fish & chips or hotel accom ie put some money into the local economy), and it'd be for the first time. Even though the place seems more than a bit rough in the BBC report. I love the woman saying "We've got enough pregnant women in this town already". It all reads like an episode of Shameless, with fish!

btw I think Hirst is an appalling artist and it's a very poor sculpture**. But that's not the point. It's not permanent, it can always be removed, it's only a loan anyway. I went to Damien Hirst's exhibition recently at Tate Modern and it was garbage, imo. I couldn't wait to get out. He's a brilliant self-publicist, hence the absurd diamond-encrusted skull (made by Hatton Garden craftsmen, he can't actually make any of this stuff!) No doubt this giant figure is more self-publicity. You can always shut your eyes as you walk past it if you don't like it.

But should the Council have given it planning permission? I say a big Yes.

** of course it would be great if all public sculpture was of the standard of Michelangelo's David or of Barbara Hepworth or Alexander Calder. But this is the real world. And there was an article (in the Guardian?) about why all recent public art in this country is cr@p and always will be. Dancing to too many irreconcilable tunes. Prompted by the cancellation of Mark Wallinger's White Horse project in Ebbsfleet, Kent.

** many thanks, Professor Google, here's the Wallinger article:

Now that would indeed have been a superb piece, imo. His work I saw recently at the Baltic in Newcastle was thrilling, wonderful, bliss!

Here are some of the public sculptures we have/have to endure round here (a-f) for any of your thoughts or comments and four from London, all of which I adore, especially (j). I'll say now that (a) in Loughborough is massively popular with everyone I hear speak about it, so that must rate it a success ..... mustn't it? Humour seems to help. The Oadby one, (d), has always been a total mystery to me. What it is and even why it is! I think it's something to do with the local textile industry and it's supposed to help give Oadby some identity, heehee ... it's not worked on that score then:











POGS Tue 16-Oct-12 21:49:58


The camel I believe was on a carnival float originally and ended up for a josh in the field.

In November Somerset has the most brilliant carnival season. It does the rounds in places such as Glastonbury, Wells, Burnham-on-sea, Bridgewater and others.

The carnival floats are made by volunteers and all money raised goes to charity. They have carnival clubs and work tirelessly throughout the year raising money and making costumes and learning dance routines etc.
Some of the floats are so high they have to ease up telephone lines and some are so large they are made up of two trailers joined together and massive generators supply thousands of lights and moving parts.

It has to be seen to believe but I assure you it makes the London Lord Mayors Parade look amateur.

It's brilliant and I urge anyone to go and see it.

isthisallthereis Tue 16-Oct-12 21:52:29

I simply can never understand anyone who doesn't love and respect the Angel of the North!

I was on the train up to Edinburgh some time ago. As we got to the Angel, I was avidly gawping out of the window. Then I turned my head to look at the interior of the (very full) carriage. Every single person was looking at the Angel! ALL the people on the left hand side of the train were standing in the aisle or craning over other people's shoulders. Everyone. That's the power of good art to me.

Also, before that, I'd gone to Teesside University in Middlesborough to give a lecture. When I received my payment, I noticed they'd adopted the Angel OTN as their logo. It looked good and was instantly recognisable. It gave the place an identity. Sorry if you live in Middlesborough but apart from the Transporter Bridge (and the hills outside) I could see nothing else to give a distinct identity. I live in Leicester, we have the same problem!

I read that the arms of the AOTN are not flat, but they very, very gently curve round to give a feeling of an embrace. I think that has a lovely effect at an un-noticeable, instinctive level if that makes sense.

Can we also please celebrate his wonderful standing iron men at Crosby, between Liverpool & Southport. That's even better because it has the dynamic of the perpetually passing container ships and ferries and other craft, as well as (of course) the rhythm of the rising and falling tides and currents, and the imperceptible slow accumulation of barnacles and rust (they are deliberately planned to rust, they are not stainless steel) on the figures. And Scousers adding swimming trunks (painted or real) football shirts, scarves etc regularly, which Gormley apparently likes and approves of!

jeni Tue 16-Oct-12 21:55:15

The camel was called Humphrey and supported lots of charities! At Xmas he had a red and white scarf and hat!grin

POGS Tue 16-Oct-12 22:03:27


Have you ever been to one of the Somerset carnivals?

crimson Tue 16-Oct-12 22:15:08

isthis; so that's why it's so comforting to look at. A friend who travelled up north with us one day just remarked on how ugly it was sad. Is Humphrey still there? I was annoyed with myself when I worked out exactly where on the motorway he was, because I loved the anticipation of him suddenly appearing. The kids adored him. I know nothing of these carnivals but the west has been calling to me for a while. I used to live in Boscastle and it seems strange that I now spend so much time as far away from it as Northumberland. A friend has just moved to Dartmouth, so I'll be going down there when I can, but the north Cornish coast is where my heart is. Going of at a tangent yet again, I saw part of that programme about Wales last week; it talked about the Rebekah [sp]Riots, which made me realise that was the foundation of the Border Morris that I love so much. We have such amazing traditions in this country; aren't we lucky [need the union jack to wave again!].

Joy56 Tue 16-Oct-12 22:20:58

@ isthisallthereis I lived in Ilfracombe for 20 years and still live quite near, also travel along the M5 often. You are absolutely right about the wicker man. It is beautiful and it was awful when it was burnt down. It has been rebuilt and looks as good as ever.

Damien Hirst's 'Verity' was originally on show outside the Royal Academy for last years summer show. I haven't been to see it yet and don't think I will, I am not a fan and quite honestly he acts as if he owns the area, he also has a restaurant on the harbour. Another classic quote from a local was the lady who said 'there are enough pregnant girls in Ilfracombe already'. wink

crimson Tue 16-Oct-12 22:35:19

There's a wonderful statue of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor at Pride Park.

isthisallthereis Tue 16-Oct-12 23:55:13

This is going in all sorts of interesting directions.

POGS and Jeni pls can you post any links to photos or even better videos on YouTube of all this Somerset carnival stuff?? It all sounds FAR more interesting than Mr D Hirst.

And Crimson, is this of what you speak?

Though no Leicester Foxes fan (proud hand in air!) could possibly enjoy anything connected with the SheepSh@ggers! grin

I love the Brian Clough statue in Nottingham city centre. Not for the statue which is fairly ordinary imo, but the stone plinth which is elegantly carved with many of his wonderful, cherished and famous quotes

I hugely enjoyed the iconic statue of Bob Stokoe at the Stadium of Light when I was there recently. Lovely photo here:,

crimson Wed 17-Oct-12 00:18:08

Yes; that's the one. When he died we all signed a book outside the stadium..for once The Rams and Forest were united. So sad that Cloughie and Peter Taylor were never reconciled in life [I believe]. I wish I could get the knack of this cutting and pasting lark. There's a statue of Charlie Chaplin in Southern Ireland that we came across by accident. There's something lovely about coming across a statue or a memorial unexpectedly. In a churchyard in Northumberland there was a plaque saying that a tree had been planted by the Kelso Laddie and the Jethart Callant in the 1930's. Not having any internet access I puzzled over this but it led us on a journey to discover the northern riding out ceremonies.. Jethart being the old name for Jedburgh and the Callant being the man chosen to lead the riding out ceremony.

isthisallthereis Wed 17-Oct-12 01:09:35

Yes Crimson, random things in churchyards! They are in a way Public Art in themselves, maybe.

One more football one. I'd gone to a concert in Attenborough Parish Church nr Nottingham. And right on the corner of the tower, where the path turns a corner, there was a gravestone to a very famous Notts County footballer who died tragically young. Needless to say, I'd never heard of him.

And one extremely wet day, my then walking group and I were returning from a deluge of a walk (the town was flooding around us, I'm not joking) in Clun, Shropshire. As we cut through the churchyard, I was amazed to see a finely carved, fairly new headstone to John Osborne, playwright, author of "Look Back in Anger".

Clun seemed a very unlikely place for this, especially after his acerbic, barbed memoirs. Surely he'd more likely be buried in Sloane Square, Chelsea, outside the Royal Court Theatre.

But Clun it was, he'd settled there towards the end of his life, he'd loved them and they'd loved him. And that's where he's buried.

crimson Wed 17-Oct-12 01:26:27

My son live at Attenborough; I must go and see it. The S.O. will know who he is, although he's a Forest fan. We go racing whenever we can. One year when we'd been to Cheltenham we walked to the top of Cleeve Hill. There's a bench at the top with an inscription that says something like 'To the world he was a soldier, but to us he was our world' and then it gave his name which I've forgotten. I found it very moving. Have you been to Leicester Racecourse, ever? It's dead quaint with wooden buildings. We went into a lovely tearoom there which has now been closed. We were well chuffed that we'd seen it before it closed down. Sometimes improvements aren't for the best, I fear.

isthisallthereis Wed 17-Oct-12 01:53:11

No, Leicester racecourse is a closed book to me. Though I once went to a bicycle meet there (just as a meeting space, we didn't cycle round the course, though that might have been fun!) Everyone was very uncomfortable, I remember the water didn't work properly and the lighting was grim. Maybe that's another version of "quaint" smile

When a friend of mine in Liverpool, who was a hardened "follower of the turf" ie addicted gambler on horse racing, heard that I was moving to Leicester, he pulled me to one side and muttered, "I don't know how to say this but ...... it's not the sort of course you'd send your Number One horses to". Ouch!! True??

isthisallthereis Wed 17-Oct-12 11:54:08

Of those public sculptures I listed above, the one that really sticks in my head (with joy) is the boy and the dolphin

Round here, my partner (SO) cannot stand the sporting one:
on the grounds that the body proportions are all wrong!

and I can't stand the Thomas Cook one outside the railway station:
on the grounds that it's just so boring, and somehow smug.

we saw the Kapoor (one of a number by him at the time in Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park) on a freezing cold day mid-winter. I think there was even ice on the pond. The light level was low, even mid-afternoon and the piece was hauntingly beautiful. Yes it looked like a satellite dish, but it was polished shiny. And, as you can just see in the Time Out photo, you saw wonderful reflected views of passing clouds. So, like the Crosby iron men, it was stationary but dynamic:

crimson Wed 17-Oct-12 12:04:37

It was only when I read about the Anish Kapoor that I realised there was more to it than at first glance. I actually loved the early warning golf ball thingys in Yorkshire [Fylingdale Moor], and hadn't realised they were no more, even though my CND years should have made me loathe them. I've never seen Stonehenge blush.

Deedaa Wed 17-Oct-12 16:03:31

I used to live in Cornwall and remember the camel well smile Would much rather have him than Damien Hirst's pregnant woman. At best (and I'm being complimentary here) he is a mediocre artist and obviously hasn't grasped the fact that making something very big doesn't necessarily make it very good. Compared with some of the public sculptures by Barbara Hepworth or Elizabeth Frink his looks like something off a film set. I have to admit I'm not wild about the angel of the north either - I've always thought the design is basically flawed, but perhaps it's just me.

GillieB Wed 17-Oct-12 16:11:58

The best time to see the Angel of the North is when there is a mist in the valley and the Angel sort of looms out of the top of it. Amazing. I know I am home when we drive past it.

Just up the coast from Newcastle is Newbiggin by the Sea - they have huge statues of an old couple in the sea there - they're amusing, but not art to my mind.

POGS Wed 17-Oct-12 16:25:20


I am not computer savvy to post photos or the like. blush Type in Glastonbury Carnival on Google search and it does throw up some photos etc.

I have to say they don't do it particular justice as you can't quite grasp the scale of the floats. Thousands of lights and about 2 hours long. It is quite unique and a treasure.

The names on the floats relate to the Carnival Club who made them and the description of the floats theme. Floats are scored on various things, such as best musical float, best still float, best walking entry etc.

Try and get there one year. smile

Oldgreymare Wed 17-Oct-12 17:22:10

Crimson you must have been at Cheltenham (live) and missed Alistair Down's item about the memorial on Cleeve Hill, I think it was part of the preamble, or it may have been somewhere else entirely! It was very moving, I wish I could remember the details or add a link (can't do that either!)

One if my favourite statues is by Anthony Gormley and is in the crypt of Winchester Cathedral, a man looking down into his cupped hands. I love the 'Crosby men' too.

In Monaco, outside the Museum of Marine Life (I think that's what it is called) I saw another Damien Hirst, beautiful (by comparison, but actually rather ordinary) from one side, grotesque from the other(in my opinion anyway).It may have been a horse or a unicorn, OG says one, I say the other! Either way it was nothing like the statue proposed for Kent. sad

We're coming up to the time for the Somerset Carnivals which usually coincide with 'Bonfire Night'.

crimson Wed 17-Oct-12 17:39:59

Alistair is so eloquent, isn't he.His article about Gloria Victis was a real tear jerker. The man and his writing are SO different; I won't tell you what he said when we met him at Punchestown [well, not on a public forum, anyway wink]. He came to one of our meetings and Chris gave him a scrapbook of his favourite horse [I think it was Rondetto; one of my old favourites, and he was really moved]. He does that sort of thing for all of our guests.

Oldgreymare Wed 17-Oct-12 22:59:04

Crimson what a lovely idea. ATR today did a lovely feature on Frankel, seems he was marked out for stardom from day one!
Sorry this has nothing to do with Ilfracombe, but the next bit does.
A good friend grew up in Ilfracombe and tried, some years ago and without success, to persuade the powers that be to retain the lovely old Victorian architecture. Notably a hotel, I believe.

gracesmum Wed 17-Oct-12 23:33:23

Not a Damien Hirst fan but I do like Anthony Gormley and LOVE Angel of the North. The sad thing for me is that I think you get the best view when you are coming back down the A! - heading back to the South.

Vonnie Wed 17-Oct-12 23:47:23

I`m afraid I don`t like it at all. Maybe I just don`t appreciate "art".

isthisallthereis Thu 18-Oct-12 00:01:36

The BBC report at the beginning of my OP, oldgreymare clearly paints Ilfracombe as badly in need of rescue. And it's made to look jolly rough in the report, though there must be some folk round there with the readies to eat in D Hirst's restaurant! There was a mainly sympathetic item on Radio 4 Front Row tonight which especially praised the setting, with dramatic rocks and the harbour. It was fairly reserved about the actual quality of the statue. It looks about the same naffness as this awful thing at St Pancras station:

Though I'm fond of the Betjeman nearby, particularly for the quotes in the pavement:

I always remember his reply when interviewed towards the end of his life.

Interviewer: Do you have any regrets, Sir John?

JB: Yes, not enough sex!

Death of interviewer

Though he seems to have hardly ever kept it in his trousers:

What's "not enough"?

JessM Thu 18-Oct-12 07:38:21

More I think about the Hirst the less I like it. Nasty. A dead, dissected pregnant woman. Why?

Oldgreymare Thu 18-Oct-12 09:34:28

Isthis, life is full of coincidences.

My friend, who was trying to prevent the Ilfracombe Hotel (the centre of the whole of Victorian Ilfracombe) from being demolished, knew the Betjemans, in fact was interviewed by Bevis Hillier for his biography of Betjeman.

Can't imagine how such a lovely woman was attracted to such a dishevelled, overweight man, it must have been his way with words wink or do we all have a hankering after lost loves?

JessM Horrible, I agree!