Vauxhall is to get two more municipal ‘artworks’, to add to the outsize bath toy hippo now bobbing about at anchor in the Thames off Vauxhall Bridge.
The latest artworks are to perch atop the two 40-ft black concrete pillars commissioned by the Friends of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and erected at the Kennington Lane entrance to the Vauxhall Gardens site four years ago.
The artworks are of blackened steel ribbon folded to roughly life-size silhouettes. One silhouette is of an 18th-century belle and the other of the artist’s idea of a contemporary beau, a lounging youth wearing a baseball cap back to front. Being ‘contemporary’, the male artwork keeps his hat undoffed in the lady’s presence while, one hand on hip or in his pocket (it’s hard to tell), with the other hand he presents her with a flower. If you have any views on this artwork you have until 8 October to comment on the planning application.
The pillars beneath, according to the planning application, were commissioned by the Friends of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, whose vice-chairman was then Paola Piglia, a professional artist. The Friends then embarked upon a ‘significant’ three-year ‘consultation’ to chose a design for the statues, which was then cut short, although a clear winner was to emerge: Paola Piglia who, according to the FOVPG website, is still the charity’s vice-chairman.
The image shown here is from the FOVPG website. The cost of constructing and erecting these artworks is not given, although the artist is believed not to be charging, the professional exposure on the historic Vauxhall Gardens site being reward enough.
The budget for the pillars, according to FOVPG’s designers, DSDHA, was £200,000. Mulberry trees had to be uprooted to make way for the black concrete, and to this day puzzled Vauxhall residents and visitors are heard to wonder whether the black concrete pillars are ventilation pipes or incinerator vents.
Until Vauxhall Gardens closed in 1859 another artwork stood nearby. This was Roubilliac’s statue of Handel (the Gardens’ first music director), now in the Victoria & Albert Museum. The installation of the new artworks requires a planning application, but the result seems in little doubt. The application is by Lambeth Council itself, made by DSDHA on behalf of the council and FOVPG. Lambeth will therefore rule on its own application, and is expected to say yes. Indeed, it’s such a formality that councillors are leaving the decision to say yes to council officials.
The application, 14/04943/RG3:
To have your say on Application 14/04943/RG3, do so by 8 October; any problems, contact the Case Officer: Lauren Shallcross, phone: 020 7926 8349, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paopla Piglia’s website: www.paolapiglia.com
DHSDA and those two black concrete pillars: www.dsdha.co.uk
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