P&J Column 8.9.16


Tar? No tar. It’s a load of old cobbles.

J. Fergus Lamont, arts critic and author of “I’m with Mrs Gerrard’s Accordian Band: Confessions of a Squeezebox Groupie”

The simultaneous closures for refurbuishment of both Aberdeen Art Gallery and Aberdeen Music Hall for, according to my spies, two and three years respectively have left a gaping hole in the city’s cultural life; one with which I, personally, have found it difficult to come to terms. Seeking to fill my aesthetic void, I have even made day trips to (whisper it) Dundee, to take in as many of their delightful Willies as I can.

So imagine my joy when, upon a recent perambulation in the city centre, I chanced upon a spell-binding example of open air guerilla art, gratifyingly given pride of place, slap-bang in the middle of a public thoroughfare. Clearly, with the formal venues out of commission, the city’s creatives have taken to the streets! Last week saw the archways of Union Terrace Gardens dynamically transformed by vibrant graffiti art murals, but this week saw the appearance of a new work which has, for me, bested even that. You won’t be aware of it, it has received little, if any publicity, but I can assure you “The Application of a Thick Coating of Tar to the 18th Century Cobbles on Windmill Brae” is the most dazzlingly provocative public art installation I have ever seen. And I include in that the searing meditation on consumerism and social isolation that was the Trinity Centre’s ‘Giant Christmas Snowglobe’.

“The Tar”, as it has become known among the cognescenti, is a sensational example of its kind. In it, the artist raises potentially controversial questions about the destructive consequences of our environmentally unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels while simultaneously highlighting the dangers of failing to recognise the value of the City’s medieval history.

The piece is rendered all the more powerful by the news that, having just been installed, it is it is to be almost immediately removed again. What makes this all the more remarkable is the fact that the whole thing has been funded, to their enormous credit and with uncharacteristic insight, by the Local Authority. Transient, inept, haphazard, unwelcome and tremendously thick, it presents as a superb metaphor for the elected local representatives who seem unable to refrain from making a sotter of the city’s cultural heritage.

So moved was I when I saw it on Tuesday that I went down on my knees and kissed ‘The Tar’ in ecstatic gratitude. Regrettably, in the 25 degree heat it was bubbling slightly, and as a result I found that the art work and I were, both figuratively and literally, one. At least until the ambulance crew arrived, with a large tub of goose fat and a spatula.

I wept.

Cava Kenny cordiner, the football pundit who goes in feet first

The World Cup qualifiers got off with a flying bang at the weekend, with Scotland in dreamland as they won an impressive win against Malta, the minotaurs of the group. One of my pals had a spare ticket so I got to see the game with my own first hands, and it was a belter.

Scotland was all over them. They scored 5 but it could easily have been more if they had put the ball in the net more times than they done. The last time I seen Malteasers demolished so ruthlessly was when Melody took me to HMT to see Dirty Dancing, because her pal Ruth couldn’t make it.

Of course, the World Cup qualifiers is all building up nicely to the big fixture in the colander, the England game. I can’t wait til November when we get to stick the Auld Enema down at Wembley. That is the tie which will literally separate the men from the goats.

Old Kenny will move mountings to get a ticket for that one, but we don’t have to wait til November to see a match between 2 teams who is constantly at figureheads with each other. Saturday lunchtime sees the first Old Firm game in the top flight for 4 years, and the behaviour of the fans is going to be well and truly under the kaleidoscope.

Melody was asking me which team I was waning to come out on top, and she was surprised when I turned around and says ‘Neither’. ‘I get it’ she says to me, she says, ‘that’s because you hope football will be the winner?’.’No’ I says, ‘it’s because I’ve got a monkey on a 2-2 draw at 14-1’.