Across the UK this week, architecture meets art head on. Public spaces are becoming canvases designed to shock, impress or contradict their surroundings, whether by ruefully reflecting them back at themselves or boldly reimagining how they may look in the future.
First up is a mass of white steel tubes (half a kilometre and half a tonne of the stuff, to be exact). It was there at the beginning of the week. But just as quickly as a Jaguar E-Type can accelerate from 0-100mph, Gerry Judah’s bombastic sculpture of the world famous sports car in front of Goodwood House, Sussex is on its way to being taken down.
If you missed this sculpture commissioned by Jaguar for this year’s Festival of Speed, don’t worry … it will soon be re-erected permanently near Coventry, home to Jaguar.
Standing 28 metres high, Judah’s E-Type was a sensational foil to the classical grace of Goodwood House during the three-day festival. Judah, who worked as an architectural draughtsman with Richard Seifert before training as an artist at Goldsmiths College and the Slade School of Art, tells me: “I see myself as part showman, part shaman and a bit of an alchemist.”
I first met Judah in 1993 when the Calcutta-born artist created a moving and monumental Human Rights sculpture for Amnesty International. This was designed to have stood on Potters Fields next to Tower Bridge, but was refused planning permission. Since then, he has made such sculptural marvels as the Auschwitz Model in London’s Imperial War Museum, and 15 car sculptures for successive Festivals of Speed.
The E-Type sculpture makes us see afresh the relationship between historic design and contemporary art. The tensions and ambiguities between the two can be both strange and delightful.