Seafront art - cutting edge or intrusive in special site

PUBLISHED: 15:44 13 December 2008 | UPDATED: 10:11 10 June 2010

AS a member of the public and a fine artist and sculptor, I listened with interest to local artist Christine Lee as she presented her idea for a large sculpture to be sited on the seafront at Budleigh Salterton, prior to a meeting of the Town Council on O

AS a member of the public and a fine artist and sculptor, I listened with interest to local artist Christine Lee as she presented her idea for a large sculpture to be sited on the seafront at Budleigh Salterton, prior to a meeting of the Town Council on October 27, 2008 (subsequently reported in the Journal October 30, 2008).While the concept of a seafront sculpture which "celebrates" this 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' is not without some merit, I couldn't help wondering if this particular proposal was the best and most appropriate way to achieve this.Firstly, I wondered how this glass structure would appear when caked in salt spray and embellished with the deposits made by seabirds.More importantly, the artist herself expressed some concern about vandalism. I also have very serious concerns in this respect. The glass structure, although 'toughened', would certainly not be 'unbreakable' and would provide an interesting challenge to any 'would-be' vandal, with no shortage of heavy missiles close to hand! I am aware that the 'phone box has been targeted by vandals on at least two occasions in the last six months. While this point alone should not halt the project, of greater concern is the possible consequence of such an attack. The artist stated that the structure would be hollow and contain pebbles in a 'formaldehyde' solution. In the event of the proposed structure being damaged, the potential for a substance such as formaldehyde leaking out over the seafront is very real and could pose a serious hazard to both public and environment.After much careful consideration, I am unconvinced that we actually need this or any sculpture in order to be able to "celebrate" this very special landscape. Can any man-made structure ever compete with this stunning natural environment? That said, if the town council is really interested in an artwork in this location, perhaps it would be worthwhile seeking other submissions. I would not be tempted to submit a design myself. As a working artist, I know and understand the creative drive and desire to leave one's mark. In the case of a special landscape such as this, I believe we should enjoy its natural beauty, which I find never fails to lift the spirit, then walk away leaving it for others to enjoy.Some may call this proposal 'cutting-edge' or innovative. Others may view it as inappropriate or intrusive. I simply feel it is disrespectful and not something I would wish to see in this special location.If we are not careful, we are in serious danger of degrading that which we are aiming to "celebrate".Michael J Taylor BA Fine Art (Hons), Norman Crescent, Budleigh Salterton


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