One such whinger was quoted in the Belfast Telegraph as saying “I’ll be able to sit in my outside loo and look at the lights”. How lovely that will be! The fact that this piece cost nearly £500,000 has got the hackles up of some, but how can you put a price on the enjoyment of public art? How could a sum so small that has been spent on this piece have changed the individual lives of local residents if spent in another way? OK, it’s not bringing the interviewed resident an inside loo, but 85% of the budget was spent in Northern Ireland, thus keeping some people in a job.
Public art is there to bring joy to the public. It is as simple as that, and I feel RISE will do that, as well as showing tourists something a little more pretty as they enter Belfast from the M1 than the sad bunny at the Park Centre or the looming depression of the flats. 500,000 cars will pass by it a week, and if even a small percentage feel lifted by it, that has to be seen as a success.
Another piece of public art was finally finished in Edinburgh recently, in time for the opening of the Edinburgh Festival. Martin Creed’s Work No 1059 has the Waverley Steps, all 104 of them, clad in a rainbow of marble. Current reviews do not report of onlookers complaining of them ‘destroying their giro’. Instead, perhaps those interacting with the Creed piece have taken one of his previous works, and adapted it to be their own personal dedication -something we could all do when looking at RISE, or any other piece of public art, as Work No.470 states…
If you’re lonely,
If you’re sad,
If you’re lovely,
If you’re mad,
Then this is for you.