April 29, 2003
Statues – right shapes but wrong colours

In about 1970 the western world endured a fashion for erecting meaningless lumps of metal and stone, known to their perpetrators as "scupture" and to everybody else as: "What the hell is that bloody thing? Take it away at once."

This fad is now mercifully drawing to a close, and public statuary that is actually of somebody is back in business again.

I took the picture below on a recent trip to Bratislava. Similarly entertaining objects are now appearing in London, where I recently observed what looked like a leprechaun leapfrogging over a bollard just outside Bond Street Tube Station. And, in the posh clothes selling bit of London just south of Picadilly, I spotted not long ago a recently erected statute of Beau Brummel, no less, looking very dapper.

bratstat.jpg

For an anonymous made-up character like the one above, plain bronze is probably sufficient, but why do all outdoor statues have to be drearily monochrome, with the shape right, but the colour merely the colour of bronze, or whatever it is?

I was provoked into asking this here by a fleeting TV glimpse of a statue of the late Leeds United soccer player Billy Bremner which now stands outside the Leeds ground.

billyst1.jpg

From my little TV glimpse I thought that this time some attempt has been made to get the colour looking right. Bremner's upper right thigh certainly looks thigh-coloured rather than merely metal coloured. Sadly, the dark looking face suggests otherwise.

I wonder why more effort is not made to make statues realistic in colour as well as shape. Here, for example, is a recently unveiled statue of four of the England 1966 World Cup winning side, done in the usual solemn and "historic" monochrome. Do things have to be done this way, still?

Beau Brummel in particular would look a lot finer if justice had been done to the real look of the man, and of his famed attire.

Madame Tussaud's does better indoors. Why can't something similar be done outdoors? Is it just too difficult? Or is it assumed that monochromatic bronze is what a statue is just dumb, plain supposed to be made of?

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 07:48 PM
Category: PhotographySculpture