John O'Flynn - Artist

John O'Flynn - Artist

Signed, sealed, delivered....but not for you!

I came across Streatham Memorial Garden on Streatham High Road (south London) recently: a small park with a WW1 memorial statue (“Our Glorious Heroes”, Tuff, c1918) at one end and a memorial “For Those Of All Cultures Affected By Conflict” (unattributed) at the other. The former a figurative sculpture typical of its era and the latter an approx 8’ high square stone pillar with banded sections of texture from rough (bottom) to smooth (top). One definition of art is that it is, perhaps, more universal and more time-less than the general artefacts of its day. However if both of these commemorative artworks were to be unearthed after some hundreds of years of neglect it is pretty obvious which could be interpreted or read more easily. Even more to the point one could say which could be better interpreted by most people today. The WW1 statue is accessible at a customary glance…(it mightn't have depth, but where should one begin?); the later sculpture is not …and relies on a knowledge of the art developments of its era and locale, what school/movement it grew out of and perhaps the biography of the artist. And that is just for starters…before one interprets the piece itself! While hermetic encounters with art may be valid in some contexts, is such “closed” meaning appropriate for a piece of public art displayed in an overtly public forum and aimed to speak to a wide cross section of the community?

 

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