The most delightful public scultpure I have encountered is on a roundabout as one approaches Faro airport. It consists of an assemblage of slightly larger than life figures in various postures all looking up towards the sky.
Made of limestone, on top of which much of the Algarve stands, they have the feel of being at home. The work is fun, surprising, and interesting in its placement. They are “The Observers”, utterly devoted to their activity, relaxed and happy, and refreshingly modern in a place steeped in history dating back to ancient times. As Faro is where most tourists start their summer holiday against a backdrop of glorious sun and fabulous blue sky, this work is perfectly placed.
The sculptures compel humans to do the same: look upward. This is something we should definitely do more often, for the simple reason that what lies beneath our feet is seldom that interesting. By the way, the figures have a strange way of adapting to grey winter weather. In inclement weather, I fancy their faces change to expressions of mild anxiety which say, “Is it a good idea to do the laundry today?”
Unfortunately, I do not have a photograph of my own, but a quick Internet search turned up a newspaper article on Teresa Paulino, the artist. If you scroll through the images of her work featured to the left of the article, you will see one of the figures. Perhaps when I go to Faro next week, I shall take time out to take a few snaps, and post them here.
You have not noticed any rude comments yet. That is because I have not made any.
Yesterday, we went with a friend’s sister, who is on holiday here, to Alte, which features in tomorrow’s post. Out of the blue, and à propos of nothing else in its surroundings, and in my view, contrary to but not in contrast to the general theme of the place, our eyes are drawn to this:
We were taking a walking along the bank of this stream. As we approached the statue from behind, I said to the visitor, pointing, “Do you think someone’s taking the piss?” because that is what the posture suggested. When we saw this view, I was relieved at the absence of genitalia, stylised or otherwise. As I took this photo, I said that this may well be the start of my photo collection of artworks upon which to make rude comments.
The visitor’s gut response to this work was not positive either. I made some remarks on the mystery headress which said more about me that the work in front of us, and we moved on.
Should all public art be held in reverence? Or at least get a modicum of respect for the effort entailed in producing it? Or should we feel free to be arrogant and condemn? The easier route is the latter. I should be interested in links to other less successful public artworks, too.
If anyone really, really loves this piece – or has any other useful insights – please tell me!