Meanwhile, we find a minor victory for a special alliance between ignoramuses and the aesthetically outraged as the Sydney Morning Herald’s Spike column reports that Ken Unsworth’s much hated sculpture Stones Against The Sky is going to be “axed”. Standing outside the Elan apartment building at the top of William Street in Kings Cross since 1998, the sculpture has been the subject of long running protests by the local community including orthodox responses such as petitions and vandalism. They know good sculpture when they see it and, according to them, it aint good:
“A committee member […] said he knew no one who liked it. “The residents think it’s bloody awful. We are very open to suggestions what to put down there. Maybe a water feature to complement the El Alamein Fountain at the other end of the Cross. Maybe even a garden or trees. I reckon we can do this in around six months,” he said.”
The sad part of this story are the largely unreported facts that the sculpture was never finished and wasn’t made from materials specified by the artist. Looking rather like papier mache balls hoisted up some flag poles, the sculpture was meant to have the appearance of gravity defying rocks hanging on metal poles with each pole flanked by a fir tree. If you know the artist’s work, you’d know how good this could have looked but the builders of the Elan did it all on the cheap. Unsworth told Spike he wasn’t upset if it were removed and frankly, considering how bad it ended up, who can blame him?
Public sculpture in Sydney has often faced the same ignominious end, as anyone who remembers the debacle over Bert Flugelman’s Martin Place sculpture will attest. There was also the unedifying sight of a statue in Darlinghurst commemorating the area’s prostitutes being smashed to bits by outraged “art lovers”. Perhaps the sensible thing would have been to spend the money to finish the work properly, but you can also see the attraction of building another place where junkies can do business. Everyone will be happy about that.