Hang On A Minute Lads: Richard Wilson’s latest great idea
As we mentioned at the end of our last blog something has come unhinged in the pleasant south coast town of Bexhill on Sea.
Look up at Eric Mendelsohn’s and Serge Chermayeff’s 1930s modernist masterpiece, the De La Warr Pavilion, and you will see a full size passenger coach teetering precariously on the edge of the roof. This unique sculptural event is the work of artist Richard Wilson and is called Hang On A Minute Lads I’ve Got A Great Idea referring to the closing scenes of the 1969 film The Italian Job in which a coach carrying stolen gold bullion and a gang of loveable rogues hangs dangerously over the edge of an Italian Alpine road.
Shack Stack, like Hang On A Minute Lads…, seems somewhat precarious – a trio of make-do-and-mend British allotment sheds piled haphazardly on top of one another. Cast in aluminium, this allusion to the ramshackle shelters on British vegetable patches is anachronistic in its surroundings of chic apartments in the upmarket residential development of Grosvenor Waterside by London’s Chelsea Bridge. Shack Stack was commissioned by the property developer St James and the art consultancy Futurecity who also commissioned Chelsea Futurespace.
Richard very kindly lent us his working drawings for Shack Stack for the Chelsea Futurespace exhibition Re: Public curated by CHELSEA space Director Donald Smith.
His drawings, collages, and models are brilliant in their ideas and their execution, allowing Wilson to take his concepts much further than is often possible in the reality of a commissioned project.
Hang On A Minute Lads.. was championed by the late great Director of the De La Warr, Alan Haydon, who sadly died last year and Richard Wilson has dedicated the piece to him. The project curator is Jane Won, former assistant curator at CHELSEA space.
During her time at CHELSEA space Jane worked on many shows and was co-curator of When Marcel Met Motley but her curatorial piece de resistance for us was the exhibition Shin Azumi and Norman McLaren concerning the influence of the Scottish/Canadian animator on the Japanese furniture designer. The gravity defying playful display of Azumi’s furniture and the wit and inventiveness of McLaren’s films are terms that could be equally applied to Jane Won’s latest curatorial project.
Richard Wilson’s ideas seem ludicrous and completely impractical but it is uncanny how close the final piece is to his models and drawings. A great tribute to an artist’s vision and the curatorial and technical support working closely with the artist to realise seemingly impossible dreams.
A Harrington Legionnaire coach similar to the one in the sculpture and The Italian Job film was hired to bring private view visitors from London.
Richard Wilson’s works often have an element of potential danger and risk and are an incredible feat of engineering. Both Shack Stack and Hang On Minute Lads… also seem to be observations of a certain British humour, eccentricity, and creativity.
Hang On a Minute Lads, I’ve Got A Great Idea is part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. This evocation of a quintessential British movie with its red white and blue imagery and wit and ingenuity in the face of adversity seems a fitting work for 2012. The sculpture itself is a triumph, a unique and stunning work, but the underlying Italian Job narrative also speaks of foolish optimism, potential failure, and unrealistic expectations. The future hanging in the balance? Our ‘casino’ banking culture springs to mind, and let’s hope the British Olympic atheletes’ final scenes are more conclusive than those of Michael Caine’s Charlie Croker.