Category: Very good
When and where?
Now, until 4 December at MediaCityUk.
A big steel thingy of ten tonnes and six metres in weight and height. A hedgehog organ of shiny walk-throughableness.
Yes, Aeolus, is in effect a big organ with pipes and wires so that when the wind blows across it the piece sings a haunting eerie melody. According to the artist it represents, 'the three dimensional nature of the wind'.
What inspired it?
Luke Jerram was in the Iranian desert and came across a well-digger who talked of the "winds singing across the wells". He then thought of Aeolus the Greek god of winds and put the two together to produce his lovely hollow hedgehog. It seems a long way to go for inspiration but his piece works well here. Not that this is the first time this idea has been used.
Where has it been used before?
Loads of places, very successfully on the moors above Burnley with the Singing Ringing Tree by architects Tonkin-Liu, which also sings with the wind. In fact given its crag-like form and its location that work is probably better than Aeolus. But Aeolus is still an immensely satisfying piece of public art which if you want to seek meaning could reflect in this location the relationship between Man, Time and Mother Nature. For a video of the Aeolus effect - click here
The huge forms of heavy industry - vast machines of manufacturing on its grandest scale - once filled this area of the city region on both sides of the Ship Canal. Made from materials ripped from the Earth, they've now all gone, or been tamed and turned into exhibition pieces in the Museum of Science and Industry. This could if you want, remind you of time passing.
So you like it then?
Oh yes. And remember you don't have to seek any meaning in it, just enjoy it for what it is. It's what public art should be after all.
And that is?
Public art should be big, bold, obvious, even spectacular - it should live up to its name. A good measure of public art might be whether a cheeky kid can climb on it. I like also that Aeolus is a temporary piece, on tour from the Eden Centre.
Temporary's a good thing?
I think so. Public art can date very easily or begin poor and get worse. The new Chopin statue on Deansgate is like that (click here), poorly modelled and poorly sited it is, at best, a curiosity. Aeolus is a good piece, but as with the visiting shows at The Lowry nearby, can make way for new work which may or may not be as good. These in turn can make way for more art, and thus we get a sculpture gallery on the Quays with something fresh to look at every now and then. That's more enriching than something shoddy stuck there for decades.
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