Search This Blog


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Day return

They're having another of those debates about public art tonight at the National Gallery. On the radio this morning they were talking about what happens when such projects go wrong and fell upon the example of the vast sculpture of the parting lovers at St Pancras. Londoners don't agree on much but if there were a show of hands right now it would clearly be removed.

Joan Bakewell's objections to it were that the couple were in modern dress, it was too big and it was somehow kitsch. I don't disagree with any of that but I also wonder if we are living in an age in which we are never going to agree about representational pieces of any kind.

For a start they're supposed to be saying a tender, heartfelt farewell. Do you still see that? You used to see people weeping all the time at railway stations. I'm not sure that's the case anymore. You see it at airports maybe, when Mum and Dad are returning to India and there's a chance the grandchildren will never see them again. But a young couple parting at St Pancras? They're going to be texting each other while she's on the way through Kent and they'll be on Skype as soon as she's in Paris. And anyway, she's coming back tomorrow, isn't she?