Statue inspires ducking protestors

An actual mallard, after which the famous train was named.
An actual mallard, after which the famous train was named.

According to The Guardian, all is not well in the train aficionado community:

A statue of Sir Nigel Gresley is due to be unveiled in April, marking the 75th anniversary of the death of the designer of the Mallard steam engine. But there is a risk that his achievements will be eclipsed by an arcane dispute that started in the letters pages of local and national newspapers and quickly escalated on social media. At the heart of the row is the decision by the Gresley Society to drop its commitment for the statue’s original design to include a mallard at Sir Nigel’s feet. Campaigners are plotting to make their own avian additions when the 7ft-high bronze of Gresley, commissioned from sculptor Hazel Reeves, is unveiled at London’s King’s Cross station on 5 April.

So basically, the idea was to put a duck at the base of the statue as a reference to the Mallard, the famous steam engine. The Gresley Society dropped this after raising a lot of money on the back of the idea. Now campaigners are threatening to put plastic ducks on the statue at every opportunity.

Sir Nigel Grisley. Not a duck.

Here’s the thing. You’re walking with your kids through King’s Cross Station and there’s the Harry Potter trolley attraction (which now seems to have a permanent queue even late at night) or a statue of a famous, but not that well-known, engineer. Which is likely to fire their imagination more? The statue of the engineer, or the statue of the man with the duck? Which one encourages your kids to learn about the story of the man’s achievements? It’s the duck.

The Mallard. Not a duck.
The Mallard. Not a duck.

This seems to be an example of design (or redesign) by committee. A really good idea gets dismissed because someone thinks it’s silly. But the duck was a masterstroke. What a shame it’s been ditched.

Ducking idiots.

Ai Weiwei shuts Danish show in protest at asylum seeker law

 Ai Weiwei

“He had been watching the news during the night and wanted to react. I didn’t try to dissuade him. This is not so much about which country does more or less for refugees, it is the symbolic importance of the new law. This [kind of thing] is spreading over Europe, and we in Denmark are taking the lead in this by making this law.”

Worth noting this story broke on World Holocaust Remembrance Day. My emphasis in that quote is all the more chilling for it.

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Anish Kapoor is right to be livid about China stealing his big Bean sculpture

William Hogarth would sympathise with Kapoor. The great 18th-century artist was so frustrated by pirated editions of his prints that he successfully lobbied for a British copyright act, known as Hogarth’s Act. The Engraver’s Copyright Act was repealed by the Copyright Act 1911. The right of artists and authors to not have their work copied wholesale is a result of a commercial market in culture: Hogarth was one of the first artists to sell his work in the open marketplace. Today, every work of art in Europe, the US and many other places is someone’s property, and protected as such.

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This new 3D printed glass looks just like pouring honey

Humans have been making glass in various forms for thousands of years, from glassblowing techniques developed by the Roman empire to the industrial methods of the 1950s, floating molten glass on huge baths of melted tin. One particularly ancient process though, in which molten glass is coiled around a solid core, has been revived with the help of modern technology. MIT’s Mediated Matter Group has unveiled a new way to 3D print glass, removing the need for a solid core but coiling the material in molten strands just like our ancestors did thousands of years ago.

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The scourge of the bronze zombies: how terrible statues are ruining art

It may be time to ban artists from creating statues. They have simply lost the ability to do it. The art that once gave us Michelangelo’s David and Rodin’s Burghers of Calais has degenerated into a cynical province of second-rate hacks who are filling up city squares, railway stations and other public spaces all over the world with ugly, stupid and occasionally terrifying parodies of the human form

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