There are weeks where I don’t see anything of cultural significance about which I can legitimately report and so during these moments I will dig around the depths of art history to hopefully bring you something which provides enlightenment in your day.
The first of these is close to home for those of you living South of the River. It is Barbara Hepworth’s Single Form (Memorial) which stands 10ft tall overlooking the main pond in Battersea Park, looking not unlike a bottle opener.
Now you can really show off when you’re on a romantic stroll through the park. Perhaps hit him or her with a bit of knowledge as you casually toss some bread at the ducks. “Isn’t it interesting the way Hepworth has created an ambiguous form from which we can attribute a variety meaning?”
When pushed to elaborate slightly, or perhaps his or her silence by way of response indicates their full attention.
“Well, for starters it was part of a series of similarly shaped pieces she created following the death of her friend, the UN Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjöld in a plane crash in 1961 so you might see the sculpture as symbolic of a damaged part of the plane”.
“Fascinating.” They might say.
“Yes, but of course it also shows her interest in both the way art can interact with landscape and how we can interact with art. See how there are no barriers around it. It plays upon our sense of curiosity and our propensity to touch things. You are encouraged to walk around it and touch it if you like. A bit like me.”
Feel free stand, boldly gazing into the distance if your romantic stroll is going well enough, or if to leave out the last sentence entirely. I’ll leave it to you.
“But how does it interact with the landscape?” They will no doubt ask.
“My dear, see how the sculpture’s eye [raise your arms and flex your index fingers to do the Joey from Friends quotation thing] or, ahem, ‘oculus’ is lined up on an East/West axis. Towards the end of the day the setting sun will appear through it if you stand on this side.”
If they aren’t tearing your clothes off at this point (and do be aware that you are in a public place), you can point out the link to primitive cultures like the Mayans or the Incas who also used stones and monuments to align with the sun’s trajectory.
Say goodbye to the ducks and walk off into the sunset arm in arm. Guaranteed action.
By Edward Lines