Classic BBC Hatchet Job

fop09:55 Friday 10th May 2013
Mid-Morning Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

ANDY HARPER: Let’s return to public art. That’s what we’re talking about this morning. The fountains on Cathedral Square in Peterborough is an installation that continues to divide opinion, as Johnny D discovered this morning. (TAPE)
JOHN DEVINE: I’m right in the middle of Cathedral Square in Peterborough Andy of course. The Cathedral is actually behind me, about a few hundred yards. In front of that though you’ve got a Norman arch, a very very historic phantastic looking piece of building that is. And in front of us we’ve got this Cathedral Square, which is a square as it is, surrounded by shops. And there’s benches where you can sit down. And it’s like a flat pavement. And built into the flat pavement though are several fountains that obviously squirt up. They’re not squirting at the moment. I’ve not seen them squirt up for a while so I don’t know what’s going on with the fountains, but they are here. And I’ve got a gentleman with me. Now, is it art, public art, do you think? Or is it an eyesore?
PUBLIC ONE: Well it’s neither really. It’s just like bits of steel and bits of rubbish standing up, purporting to be art.
JOHN DEVINE: Where’s that?
PUBLIC ONE: Down there by the rowing course in Ferry Meadows. Thorpe Meadows it is.
JOHN DEVINE: Oh I see. And that’s just sprung up has it?
PUBLIC ONE: Well it’s been there a good time now. A good many years. But I’ve never rated it at all.
JOHN DEVINE: But an example of a load of old rubbish, do you think?
PUBLIC ONE: Well it’s very poor. It’s not my idea .., it might be modern art, but it’s not what I call art.
JOHN DEVINE: I’ll go and have a look, I think. What does it depict, do you think, do you think what it is actually supposed to represent?
PUBLIC ONE: I don’t know what it’s supposed to depict actually. There is, or there were one or two statues, statuettes down there with their arms stretched out, but that one’s disappeared. Where that’s gone I don’t know. There was wolf or something down there, but that was vandalised. I think that’s down there somewhere still.
JOHN DEVINE: How about the fountains here, when they’re on? They’re glorious, aren’t they?
PUBLIC ONE: Well. (LAUGHS) I think they’re just play areas for kiddies, for dogs. Don’t like them very much at all really.
PUBLIC TWO: The fountains in particular, you know, I think for the money they spent on it could have been done differently. This is a playground in the summer, and it’s just a waste of money to be quite honest. they could have done it differently. If you come to see it, the children play in it, the pigeons are in it, dogs are running through it. They could have done it in a different way, more pleasing to the eye, built it up, you know, like put it in staging, built it up, and I’d have appreciated that. But .. waste of money.
PUBLIC THREE: I think they’re an absolute waste of money. They’re not using them now. A waste of money.
JOHN DEVINE: So they’re aesthetically pleasing to the eye though, aren’t they?
PUBLIC THREE: They are. But I still think they’re a waste of money.
JOHN DEVINE: Youngsters love to run around them.
PUBLIC THREE: How many fountain sets have we had here now, and that have all been taken down and another set put in? We had them in Queensgate, and now they’ve all .. they’re a waste, absolute waste.
JOHN DEVINE: Do you know of any other public art in Peterborough I can go and look at ?
PUBLIC THREE: Yes, Thorpe Meadows. There’s some statues. They’ve been there a long while though.
JOHN DEVINE: Are they nice?
PUBLIC THREE: If you like that sort of thing.
JOHN DEVINE: What do you mean?
PUBLIC THREE: Some of them are metal, misshaped. Some of them are supposed to be acorns carved out of wood. But they’ve been there that long now that they’re all splitting.
JOHN DEVINE: A bit tat.
PUBLIC THREE: They’re a bit tat at the moment. Yes. (LIVE)
ANDY HARPER: (LAUGHS) Not too much enthusiasm. Dogs running through them, pigeons in them. Sounds absolutely lovely. (LAUGHS AGAIN) Johnny D in Peterborough.