John Crockford-Hawley column: Rigged art will put Weston on the map

An artist's impression of See Monster.

An artist's impression of See Monster. - Credit: New Substance

When news of national significance breaks a local rag is seldom first with the story but last week’s edition of the Mercury was genuinely heralded an ‘Exclusive’. Of necessity few knew what was happening until the Wednesday evening when a significant number of movers and shakers assembled at Weston Museum to hear Unboxed announce their See Monster concept to the world.

A rigidly enforced national media embargo ensured nothing appeared in public until the early hours of Thursday and, with the Mercury’s ‘Exclusive’ already tucked up in bed, other newspapers, TV, radio and chit-chat social media sites were forced to play second fiddle. Great journalism.

So what exactly is this See Monster? Sea, see, monster, monstrous? Words can be such fun. At first reckoning the idea of sticking a defunct North Sea oil rig in the midst of our Tropicana sounds anything but artistic or crowd pullingly creative.

Disassembling the structure from its Dutch graveyard and re-building it Mecano-like on a British beach stretches the engineering imagination. Stuffing it with green attractions and accessing sky-high vantage points will be a health and safety nightmare. And why would anyone bother to travel to Weston-super-Mare to see such a monster? Oh ye of little faith. Remember Dismaland?

Weston has been chosen as one of 10 locations in the UK for a free to enter big public art project of international significance and it’s nothing to do with a charitable metropolitan elite foisting culture on the West Country’s unwashed, underprivileged and deprived heathens. We’ve been chosen because the Unboxed team came to Weston with open minds (most had never been here before) and liked what they saw. Their dynamic can-do so let’s-do approach is a million miles away from the depressing blame gaming negativity of local keyboard warrior Facebookers who lament losing their selectively remembered ‘good old days’. Time for positivity: some ‘good new days’ lie ahead.

So, let’s embrace this challenging opportunity to put Weston on the map. An expected 200,000 visitors with cash to spend will be no bad thing. Are we ready?

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