Blackpool council destroys section of Comedy Carpet
Artist Gordon Young and designer Andy Altmann say they are "shocked, dismayed and extremely angry" to learn that Blackpool Council has removed a section of The Comedy Carpet, the enormous, award-winning typographical artwork created for the town's seafront.
Almost 50 square metres of the £2.5 million artwork, which features jokes and catchphrases from comedians who have performed in the town, were removed by council workmen (see above) without consulting Young or Why Not Associates, who created the work. The plan below shows the 50 square metre area that has been removed, which includes the dedication slab that commemorates the artwork's unveiling by Ken Dodd last year.
A spokesperson for Blackpool Council confirmed to CR that the artwork was being altered due to issues relating to public safety. "We're taking off four of the first slabs of the Comedy Carpet because they were too close to the tram tracks. For people to read this section, they'd have to step back on to the tram tracks, which just wasn't safe," said the spokesperson.
However, Gordon Young says that this issue was already brought up during the planning stages of the project and that he had offered Blackpool Council various design options to address it. "Last summer when the issue of the proximity of the tram tracks was raised we offered Blackpool a number of options to help address concerns, all of which could have been done been easily and at minimal cost before we finished installing the artwork," says. "But the Council informed me that I should go ahead with the artwork as conceived."
Young and Why Not Associates' Andy Altmann say they were not consulted over the move. In a joint letter to the council, written by project manager Juliet Dean, they say "We only happened to learn about this incident by pure chance; at no point did the council have the courtesy to get in contact with us either prior to undertaking the work or at any point since."
"We have heard indirectly that the council's original plan had been to turn the first row round, but that it was not possible to lift the slabs without damaging them," the letter says. "We strongly refute this. The Comedy Carpet team have lifted the slabs on several occasions without any damage to them. It's a question of using the right expertise and equipment. If the council ever had the intention to lift and reposition these slabs then they would have made it their business to contact us as this is clearly a specialist job, and also a requirement in the artist's contract. Furthermore, we have been told that the slabs were removed using a jack hammer which leads us to believe that this was a wanton act of destruction by the council."
Blackpool council workers sensitively amending the Comedy Carpet. Image: Blackpoolbeach
“I cannot believe the Council has done this,’ adds Young. “Not only have they ruined my artwork and removed the names of so many comedians whose work I wanted to celebrate, but they have even destroyed the dedication stone. It was a huge honour to have Ken Dodd unveil the Comedy Carpet. I am gobsmacked that the Council should treat him so shabbily.”
The Comedy Carpet as it is now.
PS: Since posting this piece, we've learned that Blackpool Council has apologised to artist Gordon Young and Why Not Associates and all parties are now working together to find a solution to the problems outlined in the above blog post.
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I can scarcely believe it.
You'd have thought Blackpool Council would be innovative, artistic and - oh, wait
It was really only a matter of time before the council bollocksed it up
It is outrageous that The Chuckle Brothers, The Grumbleweeds, Mick Miller and Bernie Clifton have all had their catchphrases arbitrarily removed like this. After everything they have done for the world of light entertainment.
This is cultural vandalism.
I'm Disgusted. I'd have thought the council would be protecting this piece of art. After all they commissioned it. What's more is that they don't even have the courtesy of consulting the artists (that they've been working with over the past two years) before 'solving' the issue with a jack hammer. Not too bright.
Is this a joke?
Shameful disgraceful and an acty of vandalism.
The equiavlent of cutting off the toes of the angel of the North.
Sometimes drastic measures have to be taken, however it's the way in which these things are done that reflects well, or badly on a place. Come on Blackpool - I thought you had a bit more respect for your cultural treasures!
I thought that in Blackpool the donkeys were on the beach, but I was wrong. From all the possible solutions to the problem they have chosen to destroy it, ..... ..what a bunch of brutish ignorant uneducated thugs. I hope that they become the joke now.
Astounding! It is common courtesy as well as a contractual obligation to consult the artist and his team who produced this fantastic work, before going ahead with any changes.
No official statement from the council yet? A lot of crimes against art are made in the name of health and safety!!! I'm all for being safe but this is crazy.
Why we don’t actually NEED local councils…
I think that's an error on both parts to be honest. I absolutely LOVE the design – I think it's fantastic, but its location and the way people interact with it should have been thought about a bit more. It ended very close to the tram lines and because of the direction of the text, it does invite people towards them. Such a shame that nobody identified this at the planning stage, because it could have been easily addressed without ruining such a wonderful landmark.
@Tom — Did you read the article? It was identified at the planning stage and they were told to go ahead. Such a shame.
People are surprised by this? Councils act with or without the consent of the people they claim to serve. Yes it is a shame and yes the Council should have had the decency to say they were going to do what they did but, at the end of the day, this has happened and will happen time and time again... even at the high up governmental level. It seems like governing bodies are so far removed from the situation all the time, they never really consider the ramifications of their actions. It is only ever afterwards, when they have egg on their face, that they pump out some lame and unsatisfying excuse for their action.
No one in the council will say "whoops, yeah, we should have got in contact with Young etc" because, firstly, this is admitting that they did something wrong and, secondly, they were probably under no legal obligation to do so. In their eyes, they paid for something to be done and then, upon completion, wanted to change it.
It is the council's folly to ignore possible design alterations but it is also the designer's fault for not considering them in the first instance. If they knew there would be a problem, they should have held that particular design back. Again, it is the designer's fault for thinking that the work they produced would never been touched by the client post completion. If they didn't state in their contract that any alteration to the design needed to be run by the designers first, then that is tough luck.
I'm not defending the council and their actions, I'm just saying that clients do this and unless you specify in the contract that no alteration is to be made without first consulting you, the designer, you can't kick up a fuss when the client does make a change. Contracts are there to protect you, the client and also the work.
Absolutely unbelieveable. Why pay all that money for something as beautiful and well crafted as the Comedy Carpet undoubtedly is and then take some hairy arsed navvies and dig it up? Blackpool Council should hang thier heads in shame. They have let down not only the artists and craftspeople who worked tirelessly on this project, the comedians who were represented and most importantly, the people of Blackpool whose hard earned taxes went in some way to make this unique piece of art possible. Shame on them all.
@Steve – Missed that, apologies. Shame it ended up becoming such an issue.
09.00 BC OFFICE - MEETING
"OK, hands up, who went down there in the middle of the night and moved those bloody tramlines?"
everone is suprised... i'm not- take a look at what councils round the uk are doing, and not doing, with their public spaces. wasting huge amounts of public money without any thought for the long term benefit of their region seems to be par for the course, even in this time of new austerity. we are only as good as our last job. fire the lot of them!
It's just not Blackpool is it! I thought it was odd when I first saw the piece. Blackpool council have royally fooked up here. As long as you can still get kiss me quick cowboy hats, cock rock and Gollywog dolls…
Appalling! Call the solicitors!
Councils are full of corrupt, mean spirited, suspicious people.
I know someone who worked in the council for years and stood outside of this behaviour and attitude which didn't was detrimental to his career. Getting rid of local councils, may well be more positive than keeping them.
Blackpool along with many other councils decisions are more often than not are a massive joke! They probably got the workmen fixing the potholes up the road to take up the slabs because they were closest to the job. As it's been stated this problem was already recognised in the planning stages so upon completion should have never been an issue. As it turned out it was, so ok the first row needs removing. Why not contact Why Not (sorry) and have their team remove the slabs in tact and use them else where in the promenade. Make a few tables or benches. Not destroy them. What a waste of talent & money. Idiotic!
I am quite sure that there existed obligations of two types in this matter - courtesy and contract and it seems both were ignored. That is a pity on the one hand and what may amount to a breach of contract on the other. It is, in any event a travesty and a blatent display of disrespect for intellect and the arts.
Palimpsest and reuse of materials for artistic purposes though have occurred for years. The bronze used to make Berninis’ baldachino at Saint Peters in Rome was an issue of controversy as it was said to have been taken from the roof of the Pantheon. Painters often paint over canvasses.
However, at Blackpool it seems that no artist was consulted and therefore destruction rather than artistic intervention or palimpsest occurred. Unintelligent and uninformed destruction.
Did it really cost £2.5m? Must be some kind of meta-joke.
I'm apoplectic with disgust! I would much rather the general public (with poorer eyesight) were left to fall under the tracks of a tram, than have 0.217% of this work vandalized. (looks about 2300msq to me)
While were at it can we also stop people walking on it, It shows massive disrespect to the artists.
The most disastrous punchline ever delivered!
Utterly disgraceful and a totally modern bureaucratic British act of design vandalism!
I tell you what, lets all rise up and gather round the faceless, ugly, depressing offices of Blackpool City Council and remove sections of the building because its a health & Safety hazard to not only our eyes but design culture is general.
Most other organisations would rather move the trams lines back than destroy and truelly impressive piece for the people.
I like the word 'palimpsest', thanks Colin.
Blackpool council had their reasons, it's just a shame they've been complete dicks about the whole thing. My thoughts are with Gordon Young and all at Why Not Associates.
You cannot believe how stupid Blackpool Council has been. They didn't deserve it in the first place. What they should do is dig the whole lot up and redo it again somewhere that will appreciate it. Maybe they needed extra room to put some more doughnut and burger stalls in.
Amazed that perceived Health and Safety issues have destroyed what was part of a beautiful piece of public artwork. Not only was this a great piece to pay reverence to our comedy greats, the work that went into it from Gordon and his team all wasted. I am working with Gordon and his team on another project and yes you get challenges but Gordon and Why Not Assc solve these things creatively, this is what they do, so there can be NO excuse for what the council has done. What the council have done is great example of why it is so important so let the right person do the right job, let the creative's solve the problems in a creative way, there was a solution.
I love the typographic collaborations of Gordon Young and the Why Not Associates, and have traveled the country to see them personally whenever possible. I was unable to get to the opening in October and now five months later the artwork no longer exists as intended. How can Blackpool Council justify that wanton destruction when they had been offered solutions during the planning stage which they ignored? And why would I now want to visit a town that doesn't value its public artwork?
Despite this very sad setback, it is still the best thing in Blackpool. The sheer craftmanship and scale of it is really very impressive. I recommend everyone see it before any more slabs are removed.
blackpool council will rot in hell....so shabby
Death to these infidels!!!!!!
All the stag and hen parties will be too t*@t£d to read any of it either way.
@Paul do you need to show such contempt and disrespect?
What is it with mainly male egos who post on here trying to score cheap points/insults like this? Does it make you feel better?
You make the Design world look immature and a joke, I would suggest having some respect for all the work of the people who designed and laid this in Blackpool and a pox on the council for such wanton vandalism
Thanks Ed. Nothing is static - and even if it is - we, as living cognitive organisms are not - therefore change - and palimpsest become part of our lives and environment. Palimpsest - yes I like that word too. I don't use it nearly enough. One word, or action I use a lot though is COMMUNICATION and that is where Blackpool Council have been utterly negligent in this matter.
Well at least now we all have a clearer sense of just where the thin line between clever and stupid is.
An act of almost self congratulatory belligerence and pedantry.
The sheer bloody mindedness of it almost rivals the Hartlepool monkey hangers of yore.
Good work Blackpool council, the world sleeps safer in the knowledge that the precarious balance of health and safety has been restored. Now what about that rusty tower?
Why didn't they just fence it off to stop people falling in to trams? What a shame!
I find this incredible it is vandalism. Why do people at the council always hide behind spokesmen? Lets have the people behind this decison actually make themselves available for a public question and answer session.Councils need to be accountable and in a time of osterity how can they justify just smashing up artwork? Frightening. Hiding behind Health and safety, how many 'near misses' with trams has there been?
This is blackpool probably a higher risk of been crushed by an obese hen night. Should they be banned aswell? Blackpool council shame on you. I hope that Gordon Young and why not associates can find a city that appreciates their fine work.
Ah this is a brilliant impulsive act! Look at the response! It's highly likely that most people hadn't heard of this project before it's destruction. Remember people, art is only temporary which keeps it interesting.
artists be warned... it could be your work next. Don't forget to risk assess!
Whoever in Blackpool Council authorised the partial distruction of this wonderful peace of art should be dismissed from their job - plain and simple
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