A while ago, Heidi (from Stress Sponge) pointed out a list of the 7 worst statues on London. And we all laughed, and were ever so slightly amused. And then a few days later The Third Quarter, The Fourth Quarter + I came across the Oscar Wilde statue done by Maggi Hambling. It happens to be outside my favourite Peanut Butter Gelato place. We went over it, and mocked it and all agreed that it was indeed a hideous sculpture. Right up until this old, lovely gentleman standing near us told us to stop. He said "Don't say that, that's Oscar Wilde!"
He was lovely, this old British man. He was clearly educated, and quite articulate, and after a little bit of small talk we were all considering the statue in a different light. He told us that the peice is called a converastion with Oscar Wilde (though to be fair, we could have read that on the base if we'd been standing in the right spot) and the reason that it's called that is because you're meant to sit down on the bench, and have a conversation with Oscar. It's as if he sat up out of his sarcophagus, cigarette in hand to have a bit of a chat.
He's missing his bronze cigarette, though. The artist misjudged how often people would steal it, which is to say often.
Apparently it took years + years of campaigning to get a permanent tribute to Oscar Wilde put up in London, where Oscar Wilde lived and became one of the more popular playwrights of his time. And now there it was, this carefully considered but still ugly statue.
I had a converaston with Oscar. If only to appease the kind old gentleman who asked us to consider art before we made snap judgements.
And to be fair, it's a statue that did deserve more consideration + thought than I initially gave it. Am I the only one that makes snap judgements about public art installations?