Tag Archives: Public Art

Municipal Water Feature Crimes – Part Two

Some of you will remember my momentous rant about Toledo’s eyesore fountain, which obliterates the historic city centre, from a couple of weeks ago. Sadly, this isn’t the only… erm… visually and conceptually challenging water feature the city has foisted upon its residents and visitors.

There’s also this one, located to the west of the Jewish quarter:

Decking fountain

What did you say? You can’t see a fountain? Just a dead tree sticking out of some shoddy decking?

Well, let me put it to you: This whole sorry plank assemblage IS the fountain.

But a fountain needs to spout water!

 

I hear you. Let me help you: Can you make out that tiny hole/ring in the fourth row of planks in the centre of the photograph above?

No? Let’s get a bit closer to it:

StandpipeHere we have it. An upturned standpipe sunk into slats of wood, oozing water, like some up-the-creek plumbing. Sigh.

OK, this one’s not quite as aesthetically offensive as the other one, but as far as decorative water installations go, it’s another spectacular fail.

The only positive thing I can say about this piece of “public art” is that the sound of trickling water, as you’re walking over the area, is actually quite pleasing. Unless you happen to be desperate for a wee at the time.

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Toledo’s Foulest Fountain

Public art is meant to challenge the mind. I get that. I’m only too aware that I know NOTHING about art, so I’m usually reluctant to shoot my mouth off about it. But sometimes a piece foisted upon the unsuspecting public is just too horrendous to pass up comment. So, please, indulge me, just for a minute. Tugging at the shackles of my ignorance, let me rail against the indiscriminate artistic littering of sacred places, so that I might feel better afterwards. Or not.

Here it goes:

This year, Toledo got a new fountain. Or, rather, I should say fountain. It was conceived by the (I gather, renowned) artist Cristina Iglesias. I’m not planning to diss her, I’ve seen some of her other works and liked them. She’s clearly thought deeply about this project, which actually consists of three pieces (“tres aguas” – three waters), one of which is this wretched runnel I’m about to show you.

It is supposed to represent the changing flow patterns of the river Tagus, which circles the city. According to the project’s website, the installation is meant to give the impression of an “an ancient aquifer or subterranean channel that had recently been unearthed”.

As intriguing as it sounds, as a concept, it’s not just that the end result is ugly as sin, but it also happens to be in the most conspicuous of places: Smack bang outside the town hall, and 20 metres from one of Spain’s most magnificent cathedrals. We’re talking about the hallowed heart of a  medieval city centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, visited by thousands of tourists every day, who’ve come to enjoy Toledo’s stunning beauty and thousands of years of history.

And they don’t know what to make of it. I don’t blame them. Actually, standing by Crappy Creek and listening to people’s bafflement is my new favourite sport. “What is it?”, “Is it broken?”, “What’s it going to be when it’s finished…?” “How disgusting!”

Fountain

No, it won’t get any better, I’m afraid…

Fountain close-up

The bed is made of steel, and, as you can see, with all that sun, heat and trickling shallow water, it’s the perfect breeding ground for algal sludge. And God knows what else…

Fountain 3

He’s got the right idea. Just keep walking… don’t stop and look!!!

Teenagers at the fountain

There’s no better place for contemplating Spains 60% youth unemployment.

Fountain 5

Fountain 4

Sufficiently depressing to make you want to commit suicide, but not deep enough.

OK, you get the idea. There is no flattering angle that can make this glorified sewer look like a piece of fine art congruous with an historic town centre. And I took these shots on a couple of good days, because there’s usually empty drinks bottles and soggy paper napkins floating in it.

BTW, it’s not the only eyesore Toledo has to offer. There is also THIS, but, luckily, it’s a bit too far out of the way to traumatise innocent tourists:

[If you would like to see some pretty snaps of Toledo, take a look at this post by fellow blogger Jenna, who visited me a couple of months ago.]

 

Silly Sunday: Key West Public Art

Looks like that guy down there is having a ball, chilling and wistfully gazing up at these five frisky frolickers? In fact, one of them looks like she’s about to pay him some very special attention…

He’s got more in common with these buxom beauties than you might have guessed at first glance… he isn’t real either!

And neither is he!

And neither is he!

Hands Off The ‘Money’!!!

The town of Sintra, located 20km west of Lisbon, is currently hosting an outdoor sculpture exhibition. This piece made me chuckle:

Sculpture

Don’t ask me what this is supposed to represent…the interesting part is to be found at the foot of the construction

Don't Touch

No need to squint… here’s a close-up

Foot

…but some sticky-fingered folk aren’t so easily deterred, evidently….

Christmas in Toledo

Let’s make one thing quite clear: I’m NOT a Christmas person. Bah humbug, I say! There’s not a scrap of tinsel to be detected in my barracks, nor any loose baubles rolling around under the sofa. No Sir! This is a 100% Christmas-free zone.

However, I do like the pretty lights outside. And to make up for the disturbing shopping centre art post from a few days ago, I thought I’d treat you all to something a bit easier on the eye: a few pics of Toledo decked out in seasonal splendour.

It’s worth mentioning that the issue of municipal Christmas decorations is highly contentious in Spain right now. Public spending on virtually everything has been severely curtailed, including on essential healthcare services and education. People are demonstrating furiously against these brutal cut backs every day.

But because Toledo is very popular with tourists, and a significant part of the town’s revenues depend on visitors, being dolled up in festive glitz is an absolute must, at least for the historic centre. However, to compensate for the expense, the authorities have cut down on street lighting in other areas of town. On many streets, only every second street lamp is in operation (not a bad idea!), and in some, the lighting has been turned off altogether. A friend of mine lives in these “blackout” streets, and every time I go to and from her house in the evenings (which is at least once every week), I end up stumbling over a pavement slab or treading into a pile of cat pooh.

[The pictures look a lot better when they are bigger – you can click on them, and that will take you to a screen with a larger version]

Christmas on Zocodover

The start of Toledo’s main shopping street – Calle Comercio, locally also referred to as La Calle Ancha (the wide street)

More Calle Comercio

More Calle Comercio

Christmas in Toledo

The street leading up to Toledo Cathedral

Christmas in Toledo

I just caught these on the off-chance, indulging in a bit of illegal grazing outside of official feeding hours. The blurriness is intentional, so they can’t be identified by any overzealous elves.