Monument to the Unknown Artist
Just around the corner from the new Tate Modern extension, you’ll find a rather uncanny statue plonked upon a 6ft. plinth bearing the Latin inscription, “Non plaudite modo pecuniam jacite”- which translates as ‘Do not applaud, just throw money’ (an improvement on its original caption- “Quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur”- ‘Whatever is said in Latin sounds profound’!)
Known as the ‘Monument to the Unknown Artist’, the piece was installed by an art collective called Greyworld; a group of artists who’ve been creating intriguing urban art since the mid-1990s. Other projects of theirs include the Lake District’s ‘Clockwork Forest’ (2011) and Trafalgar Sun (2012).
To the uninitiated, the Monument to the Unknown Artist can often cause considerable alarm- due to the fact that it’s capable of movement.
When it was first unveiled in 2007 a camera was linked to the artwork, the idea being that the statue could observe and mimic the actions of passersby. I’m not quite sure if this feature still functions- I certainly wasn’t attempting to dance like John Travolta in ‘Saturday Night Fever‘ when the above clip was filmed. Perhaps this mysterious figure is beginning to take on a mind of his own…
Cabbie’s Curios: Gormley’s Reflection
If you ever find yourself passing 350 Euston Road, keep an eye out for this eerie pair.
The cast-iron figures form an art installation called Reflection which was created by London born sculptor, Anthony Gormley in 2001. Although the figure on the left appears to be reflected, it is in fact a separate effigy located inside the building.
Judging by the position of the scuff marks on the outdoor figure, it would appear that passers-by can’t resist giving him a cheeky pat on the bottom…
The artwork had a twin- Reflection II– which can be seen at the deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum in Massachusetts, USA.
The Salters Return (Part 2)
Three years after it was desecrated by callous scrap metal thieves, I am delighted to announce that the ‘Dr Salter’s Daydream’ installation is now proudly back in place at Bermondsey Wall East.
In the first half of the 20th century, Dr Alfred Salter and his wife, Ada were Bermondsey legends; a deeply committed couple who devoted their lives to helping improve the lives of the poor by providing free healthcare (unheard of at the time) and improving local housing and amenities.
Working together as a team the couple lived alongside the folk of Bermondsey, amongst whom they were fondly known as Ada and Alf. Their daughter and only child, Joyce was also adored by locals, earning her the nickname; “Our little ray of sunshine.”
Tragically, Joyce contracted Scarlet Fever and died aged eight.
First created by artist, Diane Gorvin in 1991, ‘Dr Salter’s Daydream’ portrayed an elderly Dr Salter sitting on a bench, wistfully waving at an image of his daughter, imagining happier days, long gone by.
On the night of the 20th November 2011, the statue of Dr Salter was stolen (luckily the culprits didn’t manage to get their hands on the statue of Joyce and her little, pet cat which were quickly placed into safe storage by Southwark Council).
The anger felt in the aftermath of this cruel crime rapidly transformed into a campaign to reinstate the statues and within just three years enough money had been raised to recreate the sculpture- as well as a new one of Ada Salter, thus bestowing London with the first public statue of a female politician.
At 2pm on 30th November 2014, the new installation- by the same artist, Diane Gorvin– was unveiled in the presence of relatives of the Salters and the Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark.
Welcome back, dear friends.
My previous articles on the Salters can be read here and here.