19 February 2020
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An artless response to Clover's Cloud

by Maureen Jordan

One thing about art is that for such a passive activity, compared to footie and say boxing, it certainly brings out a fair bit of passion bordering on aggression. We’ve seen this upfront and it’s getting really personal with the media’s response to Clover Moore’s proposed Cloud sculpture for Sydney’s George Street.

The Daily Tele didn’t hold back, though it seldom does, headlining the paper with Cloud Cuckoo Land! It then followed up inside with Clover’s vision just plan Eiffel.

Certainly, the Cloud sculpture is a long way from the majestic beauty of the Eiffel Tower, which was built in May 1889 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.

It cost eight million francs at the time (or US$1.5 million 1890 dollars and in 2007 economists said that was about US$34 million!). Even that looks cheap judging what builders charge us for a home in Australia nowadays!

Maybe Clover’s first defence is that we’re only spending $3.5 million and that will only give us a wriggly metal tape, which will be an artist’s impression of a cloud. Apparently Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Ms Moore, thinks it will be a rival for the Eiffel Tower and I guess this is a real life example of the old saying that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

Certainly, the Cloud Arch has kicked off the important aspect of art in that it has got people talking and thinking about other things than footie, politics and all the bad news we’re endured daily.

Sure the $9 million that Clover intends to spend on the Cloud, the upside down Milk Crate and a creation called The Distance of Your Heart, could be spent more judiciously on childcare, education or helping the homeless but that always can be said about most kinds of government spending. And believe it or not, people do travel to see art, as Hobart found out with its ‘weird’ art in the MONA complex.

I know the Cloud can’t be compared to the Opera House and the Bridge, which are not only beautiful artistic creations they’re also useful. But you have to give Clover points for thinking outside the square.

My big problem with it all is that it looks ugly up against the beauty of the Town Hall and the Queen Victoria Building. I would’ve loved to see something more sympathetic with that great architecture — not just something big!

In fact, the artist’s impression reminded me of that weird Qantas ad, you know where it looked like a floating piece of toilet paper moving across our skies and into the many aspects of our lives.

The ad people behind that should not include that one in their CVs!

One final thing. Whenever I go to Athens or see the Acropolis on TV or in a book, I always ponder how they could have created such a thing of beauty that screams out how impressive mankind can be. And that was in the 5th century BC!

The Cloud Arch is never going to feature in the CV of mankind and that’s a pity.

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