IT’S that time of year again when arts columnists start scraping the brandy butter barrel of subject matter and resort to a trusty old list and a few festive references.
Yes, there’s a tinge of desperation about this well worn format, but this far into December, when the “he’s behind you”s of our seventh panto of the season are ringing in our ears, it’s about the best we can manage.
Hey – in this post-Leveson, post-Saville brave new world you should appreciate a bit of journo-based honesty.
Instead of a list, I could write about how Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the arts (which it wouldn’t), maybe throwing in a few memories of my Enid Blyton childhood – of walking upstairs on Christmas Eve with stockings, a candlestick and my Dad playing jingle bells on the mandolin, or watching the Southport Swords morris dancers carry out their traditional Boxing Day performance.
But it’s getting close to deadline and, besides, I spent my bus ride to work this morning day-dreaming about my ideal arts-related Christmas gift list, which would have been a waste of time if I don’t write this column about it.
So here, without further ado, fanfare or lazy excuses, is what I would ask Santa Claus for if his merry elves doubled up as a crack team of art thieves able to steal important masterpieces without resorting to physical violence. Miniature Thomas Crowns with pointy ears and a sleigh as a getaway vehicle.
Mind you, even suggesting such a crime will probably mean I’ll be getting cinders in my stocking this year, so I’m hedging my bets and asking for just two:
Richard Huws’s Piazza Fountain in Beetham Plaza: It’s a rare example of a work by the Welsh sculptor – his most notable pieces are in New York and Japan – and yet it is hardly ever to be seen in action. Pivoted buckets fill with water, beginning to tilt and finally tipping upside down and emptying themselves when full.
It would be the perfect addition to my back garden, where it could stand between the overgrown vegetable patch and the England FC gnome my in-laws gave us as a laugh.
I would make sure it flowed constantly and wouldn’t ever sprinkle in soap powder like the wacky late-night drinkers sometimes do, even though the effect is pretty funny. Honest.
John Cage’s 4'33: In 1952, when the American experimental composer unveiled his piece for any instrument or combination of instruments – with the performer instructed to sit in silence for three movements (of 30 seconds, two minutes 23 seconds and one minute 40 seconds), I bet nobody thought of its practical applications for the festive season.
You could, for example, evoke it during sales shopping to block out the infernal rotating cacophony of Jingle Bell Rock, or use it to cover your tracks on the dodgy high notes of Oh Come All Ye Faithful during midnight mass.
And just how useful would an extra four minutes and 33 seconds thinking time be when you’re stumped by a particularly tricky poser during the Boxing Day game of Trivial Pursuit.
WHICH works of art would you like to find in your Christmas stocking? Email them to me at laura.davis@ liverpool.com and I’ll feature them on the Liverpool Post arts blog.