The Euston Road
Where bad public sculpture comes to die
There is not much known about the early inhabitants of Easter
Island, apart from that they carved and erected huge stone heads that
stare out to sea. History judges them by those heads. Similarly, if
future historians, sifting through the rubble of a post-armageddon or
post-flood London, ever excavate a 500 yard trench along the north side
of the Euston Road, then we
may be judged by the sculptures found there. Indeed, if they find
nothing more, those works will come to represent everything that
is known about us. Read on Londoners! This is your bequest to the
Our sculpture trail begins in front of Euston Station. Pescator
by Eduardo Paolozzi may be described as an irregular polyhedron of cast
aluminium. That's the technical way. The graffiti scrawled across it, some
years ago, describes it in layman's terms: 'THIS IS A PIECE OF SHIT'.
Not my writing, but the late broadcaster and saxophonist
Benny Green is a likely suspect, as he was on record (BBC Radio Four)
declaring his loathing for it at about the same time.
Astonishingly, two thirds of the bad art along the Euston Road has been produced by the same man. Newton, also by Paolozzi, sits in the yard [or piazza]
in front of
the British Library. The figure is loosely copied from a drawing by
William Blake, a man widely derided for his poor draughtsmanship.
Paolozzi himself, by fearful symmetry,
has often been described as a poor sculptor. As if to confirm this
opinion, he was awarded a knighthood in 1987
Sandwiched between the two Paolozzis is Saint Joan by Camden Council (Keith Grant is the artist credited, but Camden ratepayers did the lions share of the work). Saint Joan
was the Trojan Horse that paved the way - so to speak - for the bad art
that followed her. Thus, we still pay the price for our part in her
death at the stake. Originally on the Euston Road outside the National
Youth Theatre, Saint Joan was later demoted to a less visible site around the corner in Ossulston Street, where she causes fewer traffic accidents.
Detail from "Pescator". A message to the future? |
Newton's posterior, which has been unfavourably compared with that of Michaelangelo's David