Saturday, May 23, 2009

Is This Any Way to Treat a Sculpture?

Some years ago, my woodcarver husband, Alan Lees, was commissioned to make a life size carving of Tam o' Shanter and Meg the Mare. It was duly installed, with great ceremony, in the Tam O' Shanter Experience in Alloway. Almost from the day it was installed, however, the staff of the shop seem to have treated it as a dreadful inconvenience. Perhaps it was put in the wrong place - that wasn't our fault. Sculptors make statues to commission and generally put them where they are told!
But it has now become one of the most beautiful and expensive display stands in the history of the world. Whenever I have set foot in the centre over the past years, it is to find the statue surrounded by what can only be described (for want of a ruder word) as miff maff. As somebody remarked of this picture, the tartan napkins are surely the ultimate insult for poor old Tam.
Not only that, but when my husband, who carved this piece over some six months of blood, sweat and tears, sets foot inside the place, he is treated as some kind of pariah, with borderline rudeness. They have never promoted the statue, never used it in any of their publicity, never asked him to come and do any maintenance on it (it needs a little refurbishment) never expressed anything but complete and utter distaste for it and for the artist who made it.
The public, on the other hand, love it. If it was used as it was intended, people should have been able to get up close to it, have photographs taken, touch it and stroke it (wood is nothing if not tactile) and generally interact with it. They have done what they can - the horse's nose has a lovely patina, as has it's big bum, which has obviously been patted a good deal. But the horrible clutter means that people seldom can get up close. We have had people coming to this house, Australians, Americans of course, literally raging about it - but of course there's nothing we can do.
Now, the old Tam o' Shanter Experience is due for demolition. There is some talk of the statue going to Prestwick Airport - which would be good. There's plenty of room for it. But it will be hard to move (it is cemented in place) and it will need a certain amount of renovation. We have deep misgivings. Nobody has contacted Alan about it for months, and we wonder just exactly what will become of it when the centre is demolished round it.

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