In part 4 of this series my companion and myself visited 'Hey Diddle Diddle' which is in The Prinnels, West Swindon. I explained about spending the last twenty years seeing but not really 'noticing' that sculpture from the bus and never realising the significance of it - which is a bit shameful when you think of it. Well I'm sorry to say that my chagrin doesn't end there. Oh dear me no! The situation with this next one is very similar I'm sorry to say. Even as my friend and I were reading the 'bumph' about this sculpture I still wasn't making the connection - and 'connection' is actually very apposite indeed. It was only as we approached Freshbrook that I realized what we were going to. Doh!
The blurb has this to say about this art work: 'Nexus 1986. Artist Hideo Furuta. Material: Blue Pennant stone. Project details: Nexus was carved by the artist, using hand-made tools, in public and in situ. The residency was funded by Thamesdown Borough Council and Southern Arts.'
Now, much like glimpsing 'Hey Diddle Diddle' several times a week from the bus and it never registering, the same applies here. I walk to Freshbrook several times a week: to the Dr, the pharmacy and to Tesco, and every time I have walked past this thing and never really given it any thought. Well that's no longer the case. I'm still not sure that I like this piece of art but having read about it and pondered on it some, it's actually very interesting.
The name of it for a start. The word 'Nexus' ( I did actually know this) comes from the Latin of '‘a binding together’, from nex- ‘bound’, from the verb nectere . It also has the connotation of meaning a connection or series of connections linking two or more things: the nexus between industry and political power.• a connected group or series: a nexus of ideas. 2 a central or focal point: the nexus of any government in this country is No. 10.
So, to my mind, the 'meaning' of this sculpture works on a couple of levels - especially when you consider that it rests on railway sleepers. So in the first instance, in the macro or the big picture if you will, the railway undoubtedly made it possible for Swindon to become the town that it is today and links Swindon with the rest of the south-west and with the south-east. But on a micro or more local level, I think what is key, is the fact that Freshbrook village centre is:
a) a focal point for Freshbrook itself being the home of a community centre, a Drs surgery, a dentist, a pharmacy, a supermarket, a hairdresser, a takeaway, a school, a pub and a church - all needs catered for there I think. But also:
b) It's sort of at the centre of Grange Park, Westlea, Freshbrook itself and, to some degree Toothill - although that has its own village centre - well in so much as it forms a link - a Nexus - between them all - it's central to them.
Ergo I reckon, the idea of this sculpture is that represents the function of Freshbrook as a pivot for the above. I stress though that this is only my interpretation. It could have been meant as something else entirely. But then isn't art a bit like literature - we can each get a different meaning from it?
So, there you have it. Like I say, I'm not sure that I'd go so far as to say that I 'like' this one, in so much as it doesn't trigger those indefinable pleasure receptors in me, in the way some of the others on this walk do. But now I've studied it and thought about it properly - for the first time in 20 years of looking at it but not 'seeing' it - I definitely find it interesting. And maybe that's the thing with art? I dunno - I'm not Charles Saatchi or Brian Sewell - but maybe the thing with art is just to engage with it and work out what your own responses are..
And I think if there's a message I want to convey in writing about these sculptures it's this: right here on your doorstep you have this wonderful entity, this West Swindon Sculpture walk, but don't just take my word for it all. Get out there, look at them, think about them and even if - like me with this particular one - you don't necessarily like one or more of them (there are 8 altogether) - just appreciate how very lucky we are to have them. Because I really think we are. Here endeth the lesson!
Anyway, at this point my friend Kim and myself concluded the walk as we'd been out for hours and were ready for dinner. So we had a swift pint in the Windmill and went back to mine for spaghetti bolognaise and a bit too much Chianti. As you do.
As for the rest of the sculptures on the walk, I'll do a round-up in another post - so keep an eye out for that. Bye for now!