25 August 1995

Public Art and the British Vandal

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This article opens with the destruction of Ash Wall, a work by Vong Phaophanit, placed near the Thames Barrier at Woolwich. This was one of several wrecked pieces of public art I encountered at that time, and it seemed worth reflecting both on the recent rise of public art in a period of reduced state activity, and on the possible reasons for the assault. Published in the Guardian, 25 August 1995.


THE REMAINS of ‘Ash Wall’, a 45-foot length of pinkish-brownish laminated glass, stands a few hundred yards from the Thames Barrier in south London. The work was commissioned in 1992 by the Public Art Development Trust, acting as agents for Greenwich Council, and took the sculptor Vong Phaophanit about a year to complete. The site was pretty run down when he began. The trees in the initial landscaping had already been damaged, but this made him all the more ambitious. ‘I knew from the beginning,’ he said, ‘that it would be a problem. But I didn’t want to accept that the idea that art shouldn’t be in a bad area, nor that it should just be about making people happy’…
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This entry was posted on Friday, August 25th, 1995 at 5:00 pm and is filed under Art & its applications, Articles General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.