Saturday, February 20, 2021

The End


My friend Colin and I set out on a long walk yesterday, with this as our destination. It's the sculpture currently inhabiting the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, "The End" by Heather Phillipson. Or, as I rather unimaginatively call it, "The Big Ice Cream Sundae." More about it here.

I remember reading about it when it was installed last summer, but of course I hadn't had a chance to actually see it. So when Colin and I were concocting plans for our walk, it seemed as good a goal as any.

(Apparently, under our current lockdown rules, we're allowed to walk with one other person from another household for exercise. So as far as I can tell, we violated none of the restrictions. In case you're wondering.)


The fun and yet creepy sculpture features a fly and a drone perched on the top. There's a camera under the drone that sends a live-streamed image of the steps below to this website (click on "The End" and then on the white arrow). Usually there's not a lot to see there, given that we're in lockdown and there aren't many people wandering around Trafalgar Square. There's also an eight-minute audio piece (click on "/ Volta") that I confess I didn't get all the way through, but seems to be about the coronavirus rebooting the world and all of us too.

Colin was concerned about walking all the way down to Trafalgar and back -- he didn't think he'd make it -- and as it turned out, we had to jump on the tube on our return trip because I had to be home by 2 p.m. to get a grocery delivery. (Dave was busy getting his vaccine, which, by the way, went uneventfully.) So we wound up walking eight or nine miles, rather than the 12 or so it would have been if we'd walked the full distance.

We saw some other interesting stuff too, like...


...colorful shopfronts...


...a nearly deserted Leicester Square...


...lots of workmen in neon high-viz uniforms...


...and a kid skateboarding in a chimpanzee mask.

These are weird days, people. Weird, weird days.

39 comments:

Andrew said...

Bring back the Blue Cock to Trafalgar Square, I say.
Whether real or not, the flowers at the pizza place are very good.
I've only been past Leicester Square in a bus. It seems like I will never see it now.
It could be a kid in the mask on a skateboard, but not assured. At times I've thought when seeing a skater, aren't you a bit too old for a skateboard?


Ursula said...

"Too old for a skateboard"? You've got to be joking. No one is ever too old for anything (miniskirts excepted). When the Angel (my son) took an interest in rollerblading, he must have been in his mid teens, I took up roller skating again at the ripe old age of don't ask. Yes, really. The idea (mine) that mother and son would be gliding along the promenade in our inliners, our respective manes blowing in the wind. The romance of it!

I won't tell you the end of the story because so many ends disappoint.

U

Ursula said...

Yes, Steve, the cherry on the icing. Witty, both the fly and the drone. Where nature meets high tech. Reminds me of the sort of assignment we'd be given in art class at school: "Describe the picture and its meaning". Loved it. Whilst, on one hand, you needed an eye for detail, the interpretation was free flow. No limits to your imagination. The first I remember was a depiction of Ganymede. No, NOT the rather harsh "Abduction of Ganymede" by Rembrandt; a much softer one but can't, this minute, remember the artist though still see the painting in my mind's eye.

Leicester Square near empty? It defies all memory over reality.

U

Linda Sue said...

surreal, all of it including walking that far! Glad you did, though, fantastic photos! I had to look hard at the skater. Glad to hear that Dave is all shot up! That is somewhat of a relief. Still no vaccines up here. The soft serve with cherry and fly is brilliant even more so with the drone and camera! Clever, skilled artist. Because of the lack of people and busses and usual city dirt the ice cream stays looking pretty tasty! Weird to see NO PEOPLE in the square.Yes, very weird.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

That is not a kid skateboarding in a chimpanzee mask, it's a chimpanzee skateboarding in a kid's costume. Good that you managed to get out for a nice long walk. I hope that Colin's pace was in harmony with your pace.

Bob said...

Between that fabulous art installation and the kid skating with a mask, probably taking the place of a medical-ish mask, this is a great way to start a Saturday!

My life so far said...

Strange days indeed.

Sharon said...

London is almost unrecognizable without any people. Thanks for the photos of the latest 4th plinth artwork. I did look at the camera but all I saw were a few pigeons. But that photo of Leicester Square is a real shocker. I've never seen it without thousands of people milling about. Strange days indeed.

Ms. Moon said...

I'm not sure I understand what that artwork is all about. I mean...I guess I get it. And it's...large.
Chimpanzee boy, on the other hand, delights me.

robin andrea said...

That is such an interesting and bizarre sculpture. I love that you post photos of things I would never otherwise see or even imagine existed. Beautiful street scenes there too. Love that chimpanzee mask on the skateboarding boy.

ellen abbott said...

I love the kid in the chimpanzee mask. and you'd think the workers wouldn't need their neon safety jackets since they're the only ones our and about. when I looked at that first picture I thought the sculpture was covered with a sheet and I thought what a shame to have walked all that way and not be able to see it.

Ellen D. said...

I checked out the live feed and there were several people out and about but it seemed very, very windy as the fountain was blowing water around. A new thing to watch during COVID lockdown boredom! Great! :)

Catalyst said...

I liked the live feed for awhile too.

Margaret said...

I like the sculpture but the chimp/kid is creepy. It's so deserted, almost like a post-apocalyptical world.

Mary said...

I still can't quite fathom those empty London streets such as those in your photos. Every time I think about coming back over for my usual visits, it just seems like the city I know so well doesn't exist anymore. And I guess, in many ways, it doesn't.

Allison said...

I love the chimp/kid. It's very creative. Like so much of modern art, the whipped cream installation leaves me scratching my head. Why did that need to be done?

Moving with Mitchell said...

I love the art installation. Great views around town (eerie to see it so deserted). That's actually a chimpanzee on the skateboard -- in a kid's clothing.

Sarah said...

The skateboarding chimpanzee might actually be a chimpanzee-look at his hands-chinp hands! I want to go into town before lockdown ends but have hesitated over getting the train as I suppose it is not strictly allowed. But I might just once to see the big icecream. It looks impressive! I love the way that the fourth plinth is used now.

Steve Reed said...

The blue cock was awesome, wasn't it?! Skateboards nowadays are a mode of transportation just like bicycles. I've seen adult men skateboarding to work!

Steve Reed said...

It is a thought-provoking sculpture, isn't it? The collision of nature and technology, as you said.

Steve Reed said...

It was strange, though there were more people out and about than there were when I walked down through Westminster last spring. I think "lockdown fatigue" has led people to be more adventurous this time around.

Steve Reed said...

He IS in a chimp-like pose, isn't he?! Fortunately Colin and I are both pretty fast walkers -- but not as fast as Dave, who with his extra-long legs frequently leaves me in the dust.

Steve Reed said...

It didn't occur to me that he might be wearing that mask for protection, but maybe you're right!

Steve Reed said...

In so many ways!

Steve Reed said...

Every time I've looked at the feed, the view has just been empty pavement.

Steve Reed said...

Oh, I'm not sure I get it either. Why whipped cream? Are we literally sugar-coating our own evolution (demise?) at the hands of technology? Chimp boy made my day too.

Steve Reed said...

Seems like it would be hot to skate with a full face mask, doesn't it?

Steve Reed said...

It's probably a legal requirement that they wear high-viz clothing whether other people are around or not!

Steve Reed said...

Oh, you saw PEOPLE! That's rare!

Steve Reed said...

I need to check it again at a time when people are likely to be there. Makes me wonder whether anyone was watching me when I took my pictures!

Steve Reed said...

He is sort of "Clockwork Orange," isn't he?

Steve Reed said...

It's just on pause at the moment. It's still here, though. When Boris releases us all I suspect we'll be back to normal (more or less) in short order.

Steve Reed said...

Perhaps making you scratch your head was the intent. Sometimes I think just provoking a perplexed response is enough for the artist -- a prod to make us think.

Steve Reed said...

He IS in a very chimp-like pose, isn't he?!

Steve Reed said...

LOL! I saw that hand, too! Maybe that's why he got a chimp mask -- because he has a chimp-like skating posture. Maybe his friends got it for him. Maybe they even call him "Chimp." (There could be a short story here.)

Thilda said...

I like your photos!

Janie Junebug said...

You and Mitchell should be in the same city so you can walk together. I'm impressed by how much the two of you walk.

Love,
Janie

Steve Reed said...

Thank you!

Steve Reed said...

Walking keeps me sane, especially in this lockdown!