Friday, 20 May 2011
I haven't bought a lottery ticket for years but I know plenty people who faithfully spend their £1 or more every week and good luck to them.
If I remember correctly the UK National Lottery's policy is to give to good causes and even in this quiet outpost there are a couple of projects which have benefitted from people's weekly flutter, but none to the tune of £460,000. Surely a project which is funded by nearly half a million pounds must be extraordinary?
It is, but only insofar as it's also one of the most bizarre.
The money is for the most expensive 'artwork' to be unveiled in Scotland. What is it? A portrait of Alex Salmond? A bronze of an Edinburgh tram before they're rented out because they won't be used in our capital city 'for some years'? Elaborate gates for our future border control?
Some of you may say one or all of the above are plain stupid ideas and I won't argue, but they're certainly more sensible than the artwork which is part of the finale of the Cultural Olympiad - a celebration of the 2012 Olympics.
Craig Coulthard, an Edinburgh based artist who won the bid to create one of the 12 public art commissions, wanted something which 'invites us to consider what it means to be British and what it means to be Scottish' (he's covering all angles). So Mr Coulthard came up with the idea of building a football pitch in the middle of a forest. An unusual idea but interesting - until I read that 'The Forest Pitch' will only be used for two football matches then the pitch replanted.
The pitch is currently being prepared in a spruce forest on the Buccleuch Estate near Selkirk and the felled trees will be used to create seating for the spectators and a shelter which will be used as a changing room for the football teams.
The teams which will play at the two matches will be made up of a diverse group of players, all of whom have taken British citizenship since 2000. Not being a football supporter I'm unsure if there are four complete teams composed of those who have recently become citizens and if that is the case, the team players won't have had much 'bonding' practice. Still, it's a worthy idea to use sport as the project subject.
What leaves me shaking my head in disbelief is that £460,000 is to be the cost of 180 minutes of football on a pitch which will then be destroyed. The only public who will benefit are the teams and spectators. Oh, and the Duke of Buccleuch of course. Replanting the pitch will carry a hefty price tag.
Public art? I think not.