Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Claybury Park Art Project

Back in February, Area Committee 3 received a report on a Claybury Art Project presented by the Borough’s Public Art Officer. He got quite a rough reception from the committee, especially as there had been no consultation. Item 6.

“The artist/Architects group, Muf, have been commissioned to create a permanent artwork in Claybury Park Barkingside, Ilford. This innovative and stimulating artwork will bring attention to Claybury Park’s history and expansive woods and grounds. The project will encourage and inspire visitor to see and experience the Park from a different perspective.

The proposal for an artwork for Claybury Park is to create a series of images as talking points to explore the history and the future of the park. The images will be staged photographs as mythologized views and will be created through collaboration and participation with the park users and those charged with its ongoing care. The images will be located on the existing information boards at various points throughout the Park. The photographs will be created using the existing park as a backdrop and the participants as characters. The images will draw on the original techniques used by Repton, the C18th Claybury estate designer, which he deployed to visualise his designs for clients where he showed the before and after. In our proposal the landscape will form the “as is” view with the installed image as either the ‘before’ or the ‘after’, it will be for the viewer to decide.”

the proposed Claybury ArtIt now seems that this will go ahead despite Area Committee 3’s reservations. A project Group is to be set up to “oversee and provide advice throughout the project life and will be pivotal in ensuring that the artwork is sensitive to the area and relative to the budget.
The artists will create 3 extra proposals allowing the group to discuss and select the final proposal. The original brief emphasises social engagement and community based art to reflect the aspirations of the surrounding community. Muf are pioneers of socially engaging art practice and selected as the successful because of their sensitivity to the consultation process.”

I have been asked if I wood [sic!] like to participate as a member of the Public Art Project Group but it seems I don’t have the necessary experience and qualifications. Perhaps I’m not speaking the right language?

From the Muf website:

‘Since 1996 muf has established a reputation for pioneering and innovative projects that address the social, spatial and economic infrastructures of the public realm. The practice philosophy is driven by an ambition to realize the potential pleasures that exist at the intersection between the lived and the built. The creative process is underpinned by a capacity to establish effective client relationships that reveal and value the desires and experience of varied constituencies.’

Over to you Coxsoft.


  1. The historical side is interesting. I didn't know that Sir Humphrey Repton landscaped that neglected orchard which could be accessed through a public right of way across a farmer's field before a housing estate blocked it. That field should have been included in the park and its public right of way should never have been blocked. Too late!

    Art? Iffy. The Muf blurb is exactly that sort of pretentious gobbledegook which sells bad art to those Philistines who hold the purse strings. A good exhibition at the Redbridge Museum could present the interesting historical side at no cost to the Borough. (This is what our museum officers are paid for.)

    Will there be a budget for round-the-clock security on these proposed artworks? If not, they are bound to be vandalized within days of being unveiled.

    Will talented local artists be employed or will the commissions go to unproven artists who are flavour of the month at Muf?

    Has anyone bothered to approach Arts Council England? This is exactly the type of project ACE is prepared to fund generously. Has Muf a track record of extracting funds from ACE? Has anybody even bothered to investigate Muf's record in this lucrative field or is the Borough relying on Muf's sales pitch alone?

    "Wanna buy an art project, guv?"

    "Er...well, if you rephrase that in appropriate gobbledegook that nobody can understand, we might be interested."

    It all sounds like a badly thought out waste of taxpayers' money. So, unless there's a fat consultation fee for Coxsoft Art, I'm out.

  2. Badly thought out waste of taxpayers' money? In Redbridge? Surely not!

  3. Thank you Coxsoft, for articulating what I was thinking - 'pretentious gobbledegook' certainly fits the bill.

    And talking of bills, how much is all this costing us?

    Let's hope we don't end up with visual blight like the ghastly tin flowers that desecrate The Shrubberies in George Lane, South Woodford.

  4. My comment is much in agreement with Morris's the problem as I see it is that the perception of Art, Public or otherwise and Redbridge Councils perception are not necessarily the same as members of the public.
    Far to much "Art"??? displayed within the borough has been targeted "as this will be" by the mindless minority who regrettably we have to live with, "and who then will pick up the tab" come to think of it who's paying for this now, in the end Area 3 will pick up the tab for any damage of that you can bet your pension on.
    as far as the Designer is concerned it would appear that they,he,she, has been reading Roget's thesaurus again. why o why do we not learn to speak and write in Plain English. Methinks I feel a large dose of grumpy old man syndrome coming on.

  5. According to the brief the budget is £4,000.

    ".... secured through a Section 106 Public Art contribution as a condition of the Timberdene and Fullwell Ave Development."

    Presumably this means the Genas "development"?

  6. Will they need a "muf" to keep them warm in the winter?


  7. No, dopeyf. Thermal Y-fronts should do that.

  8. Now they are spending thousands on town centre art.

    Ilford Recorder

  9. I thought that £4000 sounded too good to be true. A sprat to catch a mackeral, eh? Now there's £30,000 to waste on art for the town centre. Why bother when advertisers decorate it with art and pay for their advertising space?

    Has anyone visited the Barking and Dagenham website recently? That council spent a small fortune on Muf "art". Looks to me as though Redbridge is playing keeping up with the Joneses at our expense.

    £4000 today.
    £30,000 tomorrow.
    What's the maximum, Muf? Fancy a Damien Hirst shark in the town hall, anyone? A snip at £9.5 million.

  10. No, Coxsoft. There are already enough expensive sharks in the town hall, although much cheaper than the Hirst one.