Arts & Elbows

A catalogue of commentary on events in Thanet and occassionally the rest of the world.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

A Bang and not a Whimper

It's not often you get to see a piece of sculpture by Antony Gormley unless you're lucky enough to drive past his brilliant "Angel of the North" on the side of the A1. It's even rarer to have him come and build something in the middle of your town. Thanks to the Exodus project that's exactly what we've been treated to, and plenty more besides.

The events of today were part public performance, but also for filming scenes for the Exodus film, a modern retelling of the Exodus story. So happy are we to have them choose dear Margate for their project we willed them incredibly fine weather, and we got a chance to watch how television professionals go about their trade. This is both illuminating and confusing, we've no idea of their script, they film scenes out of sequence, and they rush around a lot and then wait seemingly for nothing. It remains fascinating to watch though.

So there's a Gormley sculpture, fake policemen, a pretend news crew and a rowdy on demand crowd waving placards for a right-wing leader who doesn't exist. It's an odd scenario but one which feels quite agreeable in our humble seaside town. We're used to illusion in the name of entertainment so it doesn't feel out of place to have such a modern version of it on the Dreamland site, in fact it's almost nostalgic.

Here we can see Pharaoh supporters cheering, they're not cheering anything in particular rather they've been instructed to do so for the cameras. Their cheers at directed at a space empty of anything bar a camera crew.

Here's Bernard Hill as the Pharaoh, a frightening role made even more worrying by his resemblance to George Galloway. He oozed charisma to the point of seeming to be exactly what he was playing. Oustanding especially as a lot of folk fondly remember him as Yosser Hughes in "Boys from the Blackstuff" way back in the eighties. He's the only professional actor in the cast though, everyone else has been recruited locally.

As evening fell there was an explosion at the very heart of the "Angel of the South".

A pall of smoke drifts across the thousands assembled to watch.

Our Angel burns brightly as the sun sets.

Until only the RSJs remain, then everyone wanders off to the pub. A bizarre once in a lifetime event widely enjoyed. By far the most engaging large scale arts project we've ever enjoyed here.


Blogger Nethercourt said...

Cheers! ; )

Saved me a trip into 'the darkness' anyway.
Mind you, I look forward to seeing the end result.... eventually.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Eastcliff Richard said...

Something burning to the ground in the middle of Margate, there's a novelty.

9:54 PM  
Anonymous Iain said...

Great report and pics Philip. Good to bump into you too. Thought organisers maybe missed a trick by not explaining more [flyers on the gate?] about what the burning was about and what its role in the film was, as most people came out for that and not the rest of the events. Lots of people seemed confused. I am sure that lots of people made friends as they put out the smouldering embers landing on the person next to them!

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

shame the cameras didnt catch those other twisted firestarters!

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Iain said...

Oh and the New York Times has a long-ish piece on the events today

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its all very well this arty stuff, but how ironic that we get a gormley and burn it. Where's the legacy in that. Michael Morris and his merrymen and women should at least have made some super piece of conceptual art from the ashes. Any value on ebay boxes of gormley ashes! He even had the cheek to compare it to 9/11, What! Talking of wasting money did we need gormley to design it, how much was he paid! Still agree with Iain they could have made more of an event of the burning it seemed to happen in sort of 'what was that about lets go home now so much richer from our experience' type response from the audience never mind, lets hope the film is good and we can all be assured that margate will be regenerated and all the islington bods can have super memories of there time serve on the front line in Margate.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Hippy Cow said...

...agree with the confusion bit and stuff (bit of a piece on my blog re that and the fact that i thought the burning abit sad)

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Adrian said...

Wasteman even had a weenie. Ouch!Those art babes are trying to tell us something. Anthony Gormless should be ashamed.

6:20 PM  
Blogger onelosthousemate said...

Did you know your listed as an external link on wikipedia for Thanet.

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes the inclusive artwork...

Shame they didnt tell us (or our small children) about the graphic depiction of violence that was to take place right in the middle of town (with guys taking baseball bats to each other) on the 'march' -which was attended by about 500-700 people -(GET REALISTIC ABOUT THE NUMBERS)

It made my wife feel ill, as she, for a moment though it WAS REAL, but by then she had been deeply affected. We left soon after. As we walked away we heard the 'director' of the 'film' say to one of the extras "Just go and annoy people, anyone, really annoy them!"
I've had ENOUGH of these poseurs... Get real artists
At least Manchester got some good music.... Not a 15 minute fire with shouting...

12:34 PM  
Blogger A Giles said...

A large fire in the very heart of of tourism area ..... anyone seen Godden ?????

6:10 PM  

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