Robert Burns Public Art

Posted in CF Writing, Sited work by chrisfremantle on January 11, 2011

Some of the many futures: I can report that on the 25th of January 2015 the STV Greatest Scot New Art Commission for Alloway, first announced in January 2011, is finally unveiled.

David Mach’s proposal, was for a 50ft high figure constructed out of small irregular pieces of metal leaning on the Auld Kirk ruin. Mach had trawled the internet for a year collecting images of people from Scotland and these faces had been printed onto the metal. It met with outrage when it was discovered that the figure was a nude female form entitled “Tam O’Shanter’s favourite Witch.”

Sandy Stoddart’s proposal was for a four-times life-size figure of Robert Burns in masonic robes. To be carved in granite, this work was to have cost more than the National Trust for Scotland’s entire deficit.

Claus Oldenburg collaged a modern hi-tech plough, rendered as a structure larger than the Brig O’Doon Hotel and called “John Barleycorn”, onto the landscape on the far side of the bridge.

Tracy Emin’s proposal, entitled “The Lass That Made The Bed To Me” was for a bed, sited in the gardens of the visitor centre, surrounded by whisky bottles and dirty clothes.

Fritz Haeg, although generally unknown in Scotland, drew on an experience as a young man visiting Burns Cottage. He had seen the representation of the market garden with plastic cows, chickens and cats. His ecoart proposal, “Tatties”, was to grub up all the gardens of the Burns Monument Park and establish allotments.

Jeremy Deller collected a large archive of Burns’ “tat”, primarily from the Burns Visitor Centre shop, and presented this as a cabinet of curiosities, the highlight of which was a taxonomy of decreasingly well executed representations of Robert Burns based on the portrait by Nasmyth.

Mark Dion’s proposal for a cabinet of curiosities entitled “To A Mouse,” used a taxidermists approach and incorporated every stuffed animal referred to in the collected works.

Charles Jencks proposed raising the existing Burns Monument on a large spiral landform taking up the whole area of the Monument Park and making the structure visible from Ayr Town centre.

Banksy proposed putting a traffic cone on top of the Monument.

George Wyllie’s 100,000 tonne container ship, named “Burns Line,” permanently moored at the mouth of the river Doon was to be inscribed with the words “Whatever mitigates the woes or increases the happiness of others, this is my criterion of goodness; and whatever injures society at large or any individual in it, this is my measure of iniquity.”

Suzanne Lacy’s approach was to involve as many young women in the South West of Scotland in a performance entitled “The Lads o’ Tarbolton, Cessnock Banks, the Highlands, Ballochmyle, Albany, Inverness, Ecclefechan and of the Country.”

Rachel Whiteread cast the inside of Burns Cottage and then demolished the building.

Yinka Shonibare proposed to dress all the statues of Burns around the world in brightly colour West African batik clothes for a day. As with his other works, all the heads were to be removed.

Anthony Gormley’s cast iron life sized nude figure entitled “A man’s a man for all that” was rejected as being self-serving.

With thanks to Murdo for the inspiring conversation.

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