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The Good, the Standard and the Ugly: Arcus at the Triangle

Jonathan Schofield wants a sculpture melted down into hammers

Written by . Published on October 21st 2009.

The Good, the Standard and the Ugly: Arcus at the Triangle

Category: Unbelievable excrement

Twisted metal shapes by Mel Chantry which carries the name Arcus.


Because the people who owned the Triangle Shopping Centre wanted more people into the building so they thought that two large thingies by the entrances would attract more custom. The City felt sorry for them, so allowed planning permission for these monstrosities.

What do they represent?
That’s easy: they represent the death of creativity, they represent a flagrant waste of money. They represent barriers to movement and the destruction of good taste. They represent a fundamental lack of regard for the city centre.

You really like these don’t you?
Indeed. Actually what they represent is the pointlessness of most public art. The rule with public art is don’t ever, unless it’s genuinely exciting and/or big enough to make of itself a landmark. For every B of the Bang, now sadly disappeared, or the Tree of Remembrance in Piccadilly Gardens, we have twenty of this sort of meaningless trash.

Have you got any other examples in the city centre of what you see as ‘meaningless trash’?
Oh yes and the very worst work should be the most tender and compassionate, should be the most careful of commissions, instead it’s such a mess that it makes Arcus look coherent. I’m talking, the Aids Memorial, the Beacon of Hope by Warren Chapman and Jess Byrne-Daniels, who won a design competition for this in 1997. Apparently the design consists of a series of elements describing ‘a metaphorical journey through life, providing the opportunity for remembrance, contemplation and celebration’. No it doesn’t, it’s a migraine in metal and mosaic, which in no way complements the seriousness of the topic it attempts to touch upon.

There are loads, such as that tall metal pole outside Oxford Road Station, the weird cone thing on Trafford Road and that vast and ridiculous Jules Rimet World Cup look-a-like sculpture close to the Reebok Stadium. All of the above seem as though they were designed by a committee trying to crowd-please, worried about negative press from a hack in the local newspaper. And have you noticed that stump in the middle of Arcus?

That little silver birch stump? Yea what’s that about?
Here’s an ‘official’ description: ‘combining delicacy and structural strength, the intricately perforated artwork by Mel Chantrey is 10.5m high by 9.5m wide and encloses a slender and graceful, cone-shaped, 13.5m tall silver birch. Mr Chantrey specially selected the tree for its shape and height from Western Europe's largest specialist tree nursery, Lappen Nurseries, located in the Rhineland at Kaldenkirchen. Then the silver birch was moved and replanted - and is now maintained - by Specimen Trees of Knutsford, Cheshire.’ Not anymore it isn't. It’s done a bunk, been cut down, making the whole work even more painfully stupid. For a work designed to encourage customers into the Triangle it doesn’t half get in the way. It almost makes the shopping centre more difficult to find.

What should we do with Arcus?
Melt the obtrusive rubbish down and turn it into hammers. Then we should take the hammers and attack that tall metal pole outside Oxford Road Station, the Beacon of Hope, the weird cone thing on Trafford Road and that vast and ridiculous Jules Rimet World Cup look-a-like sculpture close to the Reebok Stadium.....

Why don’t you take a pill of something or other and lie down?

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7 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Peter RivendellOctober 21st 2009.

Perhaps some decent shops would encourage more people to patronise the Triangle... I know it's not a piece of hideous public art but the never-used shopping centre at the Great Northern Warehouse must take some beating for stupidity.And the Beacon of Hope - or the Beacon of No-Hope, as it has cruelly been referred to - is a quite hideous memorial. A beautiful thought badly expressed. It is especially clear how poorly designed it is when at the Manchester Pride candlelit vigil it becomes the organising point for the LGF volunteers rather than being any kind of focus for the city's main HIV/AIDS memorial event.

The Whalley RangerOctober 21st 2009.

No it wasn't! All you could buy was Star Wars figurines...

AlanOctober 21st 2009.

I know a way to get people back in the "Triangle".Turn it back into the Corn Exchange then bring all the stall holders back. It was always busy in the late 80's / early 90's before it was gentrified...

DescartesOctober 21st 2009.

Sorry, not the beacon of hope, the sculpture outside the triangle. Why's that got a dead tree at it's centre?

A RealistOctober 21st 2009.

They need a total rethink for the triangle, high end shoppers just do not go there. They need to drop the rents down to nothing to entice independant stores in there so the place offers something different.

DescartesOctober 21st 2009.

Why does the beacon of hope have a dead tree stump as its centre?

Richard HJOctober 21st 2009.

Mr Schofield, I must protest.A work of public art that manages, even in 2009, to redefine the very concept of sh*t is s(h)urely worthy of some praise.

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