The Sculpture ‘Marmite’ Question:

What do you love?

Liliane Lijn, White Koan, 1971, painted steel, neon illumination h.600cm., diam. 366cm., University of Warwick, Coventry  (photo: Steve Walton, Creative Commons licence 3.0)
Liliane Lijn, White Koan, 1971, painted steel, neon illumination h.600cm., diam. 366cm., University of Warwick, Coventry (photo: Steve Walton, Creative Commons licence 3.0)

What do you hate?

Paternoster Square Column, London EC4
Paternoster Square Column designed by Whitfield Partners, 2003 (photo: © Christine Matthews, Creative Commons licence 2.0)

Richard Parry replies:

When I arrived as a young eager student of history at the University of Warwick at the turn of the Millennium, one of the first things to make an impression on me was the public sculpture. Apart from an early memory of a Henry Moore Sculpture in a civic town square, this was my first memorable exposure to what living with sculpture on a daily basis could do. Outside my halls of residence was a giant red Bernhard Schottlander. It took me years to notice that this abstract form spelt the word ‘Toil’, and Liliane Lijn’s Koan, which still holds a power over me, had a similar slow-burn effect upon my psyche. I remember on the first day, arriving as a fresher that there was a rumour of a club underneath the Koan. People queued but to no avail.

The Paternoster Square Column, on the other hand, is a pillar of thoughtlessness cowering amidst the shadows of greatness of St Paul’s Cathedral and Wren’s (and Hawkesmoor’s) surrounding churches. Intended as a tribute to the Monument of the Great Fire of London, this is a misplaced exercise in illiterate nostalgia, completely ignoring the fact that the real thing – once the tallest structure in London – was built precisely to mark (if you laid the sculpture flat and traced it from the base to the top in the direction of Pudding Lane) the point at which the great fire started. It is a desensitised aberration that has no respect for one of the City’s worst tragedies, and also a moment of its rebirth. Instead it marks a testament to boorish, underwhelming public sculpture, the result of more money than sense, and certainly, than imagination. Needless to say, the image on the 3rd Dimension website refers to the original!