(Scots Law) A common; a piece of land in which two or more persons have a common right.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dumfoonert of Drumsleet

As some of you may be aware there has been a running spat in Dumfries and Galloway Standard following  the installation of Will Levi Marshall's Myndin the Fuird which has fallen victim to the current fearmongering over spending on culture.
New Commonty member Phil Stein wrote to the Standard to express a refreshing and unusual take on the value of public art. Unfortunately for reasons of veracity the editor refused to publish his missive. We at the Commonty are delighted to welcome Phil's contribution to the debate.

Sir, on behalf of the good people of Dumfries and Galloway I wish to
applaud your correspondent who soundly excoriated artist Will Levi
Marshall in last week’s Standard, under the heading, 'Art defense is
nonsense'. How very dare these so-called-artists spend public money
trying to ‘improve’ our cultural landscape, particularly in a time of
dire poverty when children are near starving and the lame and indolent
are forced to beg on these very street corners that Mr Marshall would
have beautified?

I for one, believe we must start removing all traces of culture and
creativity from our streets and landscapes, melt the metal down and
sell it to the nearest scrap merchant. Then we’d better make a start
on those so-called writers and poets who have nothing better to do
than invent stories and rhymes! I suggest a period pushing a broom
through our manky streets will soon cleanse them of this ‘creativity’
bug. There are far too many references and monuments to that failed
farmer Burns, although the big monument to him was paid for by public
subscription perhaps we should pull that down and sell it on to some
of those misguided gullible tourists who are forever littering up our
streets, roads, hotels, restaurants, caravan parks, B&B’s and

Yes, an end to culture and creativity, we don’t need beauty or thought
in our lives when there’s important whinging to do.

Phil Stein


  1. well said Mr Stein, very refreshing... maybe we should print it out and post it all over town so the masses get a chance to read it... hopefully... hopefully they would get the point! I'm thinking lets copy it onto a large piece of fabric and hang it from Rabbie himself, this might get the point across!

  2. Can we do it an a way that reflects my inner puritan?

  3. I don't see 'the masses' as some kind of enemy. They don't need 'educated' by the likes of us. I think that attitude is part of the problem. The trouble is that public art is a misnomer because it often fails to communicate with the public. Surely art, especially art paid for by the public, needs to take the public with it or at least challenge them in a meaningful way. If it doesn't, it fails. I like Will and Rab's Ramp but you can't blame people for thinking that the main point of some of these things is as a nice wee earner for sculptors and itinerant poetasters.

  4. Hi Shug - I completely agree with your contention that public art should have the intention of meaningfully engaging with the public...however I DO see 'education' (in the widest sense) as part of the role of public art. NOT with the idea of artists imparting knowledge in a 'godlike' way...but rather the whole enterprise should be a mutual exchange of knowledge,skills and emotions.

    I'd be really interested to take this discussion further and it would be really useful if your were able to identify an example of a project that you thought had failed.

    If you are interested I have wittered on an unfeasible length about what I consider to be the true purpose and hence field for critical analysis of public art here..

  5. As my good mate Dave Spart oft opined over a pint of Skol and pernod, "The dandyfication of our boulevards and closes is proliferated by reactionary considerations that render artwork that fails to express comprehensive critiques of society, impotent."
    He did talk a lot of bollocks, old Dave. Today's masses realise that the bourgeois can no more differentiate between the radical and the banal, than a cat can discern the difference between an ipod and a kindle.
    A return to the Situationst International détournement is evident on all our media, we need to see more of it on da streets.

  6. Any cat knows the difference between an Ipod and a kindle. Aye get the Lettrist International going again. The more piddling, factional, self-regarding and irrelevant the organisation the better.

  7. So the Standard did print it... Sat 8th April!

    Shrug... I don't see the masses as some sort of enemy (I consider myself part of the masses). I also don’t think they need educated by anyone, my point was simply to suggest that our local media could try to print a balanced argument and let everyone decide for themselves.