Hand baked etc. no 7, love etc.

february 3

I was approached on the path that leads to St Paul’s from the millennium footbridge by two young men who asked if they could ask me about love. They had a tripod with a smart phone clipped onto it and were engaged in somehow promoting a social media site the name of which I have of course forgotten which distributes to its contributors all of any money received for advertisements. I’m quite interested in the subject – love, that is, not social media sites though of course I recognise their importance – so I agreed and they pinned a little furry mike to my clothing and got me to stand in just the right place and asked me if I could answer the question what is love? in three words. I said of course not, I said there’s too much talk of love these days, I can tell you what love is not, for example in St John’s churchyard in Waterloo there stands a massive, misshapen, rusty wheelie bin which bears the slogan love your parks. a quick fish through google brings up love your bump love your weekend love your fashion love your hut love your beauty love your street love your burial ground love your loo love your ears – what’s not to love?

The really stupid thing is that only twenty minutes before I had studied the propaganda on the hoarding around one of the super sewer sites by blackfriars bridge. (I was on my way to see if Sir John Betjeman was still impaled on the hoarding of the fancy site opposite the City of London School at the north end of the millennium bridge. He is. see hand-baked no. 4: come, friendly bombs!) A sign on the hoarding asks why they are doing this? You might think the answer would include words like sewage or even shit, but the official answer is that they are doing it for love. And I had a photo of the question and answer on my camera but I’d forgotten all about it. I could only think of Lambeth’s wheelie bin. Oh and Hackney. The young men asked me where I lived and I said Hackney and they said that was cool but I remembered all the I Heart Hackney badges and T shirts. I didn’t think that was true love.

But there was one answer to the question in the Chris Killip exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery. It’s on one of the background info panels. One of the sea coal gatherers in Northumberland – there are some amazing photos of them – said to Chris Killip that what Jesus said about love was not a bad idea. Four words instead of three, but close.

After speaking of notlove to the young men I walked around St Paul’s and into Paternoster Square, the notorious private public space which reluctantly hosted – what was it called? – an anti-capitalist camp a few years ago. And there I saw the Table of Love, created by internationally acclaimed artists Gillie and Marc, where dogman and rabbitwoman hold a tea party for some of the world’s most iconic endangered creatures, where the lion sits down with the herbivore and they both eat cake and drink tea politely. There are two empty chairs at the Table of Love so that visitors can place their children for photos and everybody can save the planet with the warmth of their feelings. The sweet natured and ultra-realistic animals are all cast in dignified bronze, no cartoon colours, and you wonder how the elephant’s fat bottom can fit into his chair. The meaning of it all is underlined with lots of information panels which include a reference to the sculptors’ love story. Meanwhile Elizabeth Frink’s sheep and shepherd just a few yards away are unvisited, which they don’t mind at all. You sense the lonely spaces around them – moor or downland. They stand there without interpretation. The sculpture is inscribed with one word: paternoster. Though less ‘realistic’ the sheep are more animal-like than those in the menagerie of love. The notes on a sign elsewhere about the sculptures mention Frink’s work only to say that it took its inspiration from the meat market which until the 1840’s stood where the square is now. But the sculpture stands in Paternoster Square and it is called paternoster! it’s not called off we go to market, no place for us at the Table of Love we’re going to be slaughtered and eaten. It’s in the shadow of St Paul’s and it’s called paternoster- our father, as in Our Father Who Art in Heaven! And it also says that the sculpture was ‘designed’ by Frink. it wasn’t designed by her -she made it. That term comes from a culture which fetishes the idea of design. I bought a pair of socks recently that were made in China, of course, but designed in the UK. What? Didn’t they finish designing socks years ago? It was a very ordinary pair of socks. Not walking socks with specially reinforced bits or fancy materials. Whereas Gillie and Marc’s work was expertly crafted. although as you can see from their website they have a factory in Australia which mass produces their little dogman/rabbit woman works.

I thought – this stuff is so popular, I mustn’t dismiss it out of hand. I decided to find out more about the loving couple who had created this work. and here they are, from their own website:

Gillie and Marc

As husband and wife, Gillie and Marc collaborate to create art as one, applying the iconic imagery of the dog/human hybrid to celebrate the powerful spiritual relationship that exists between man and animal.

Gillie and Marc reference their own remarkable love story in their works, perpetuating a pursuit of happiness and encouraging us to challenge the status quo and the perceived safety of societal convention. Gillie and Marc’s unparalleled love is the cornerstone of what they are and of what they create. Meeting in Hong Kong, she was a nurse from England and he, a boy from the ‘burbs’ of Melbourne. Wanting only to find a soul-mate with which to share their passions for art, travel and adventure, seven days later they were married at the foothills of Mount Everest. They not only share an unsurpassed dedication to their art but also love for their two children, whom Gillie describes as their ‘best friends’ – along with their Weimaraner, Indie, of course.

Don’t they see that if the pursuit of happiness is perpetual you can never be happy? Unparalleled love? Unsurpassed dedication? Do they even know what they are saying? Presumably not, or they would be be sick with shame. But the real give away is when they say their children are their best friends. You can buy their miniature bronze sculptures for about £1000. And in London, dogman and rabbitwoman are also to be found challenging the status quo in Canary Wharf, riding a bike, having fun and saving the planet.

This entry was posted in crude satire, hilarious, language, London and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Hand baked etc. no 7, love etc.

  1. At one of the saddest weddings I’ve ever been to (I haven’t been to many anyway), the seating split down the middle as if Capulets & Montagues, each speech referred to daughters or sons or dads or mums as ‘best friends’. They’re two a penny.

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