This sounds a bit like an In Memoriam piece which it it but it’s not about flesh and blood losses but around the built environment and specifically art.
As I prepared to leave the house on Saturday, Dog and me, I said goodbye to the Vet who’s off to the Welsh Marches to visit the Pest Controller. Dog isn’t big on goodbyes when a walk is in the offing and tugged at the lead.
‘Why not let him choose where to go?’ The Textiliste is nothing if not imaginative.
‘Yeah go on Dad. Bet he doesn’t choose a cafe!’ She’s empathetic with Dog, you see. It’s the Vet thing I suppose.
I thought about it a moment. Hey, why not? So I let him have his head. It wasn’t hard to guess where he’d go. He made for the nearest of our open spaces and a lead free sniff-a-thon. By the entrance to that park there used to be one of the examples of Street Art that the Dulwich Picture Gallery commissioned in 2013 and which I catalogued here in 2014.
Back then I noted that one set of buildings had begun to be demolished but, apart from some rather ephemeral stencils the rest remained.
As Dog circled the grass deciding in the best angle to face while crapping – he seems to prefer East – I realised that the painting had gone, now covered in plain green paint. I haven’t included a picture – a green wall? Give me a break.
Had this been a private wall, or accessible to the vagaries of night graffiti Artists I might have understood but it was inside the park, on a wall next to a tennis court. Why paint it over?
I followed Dog, musing unworthy muses about the park’s department vandals. He circled here and there and led me to the gate. We crossed the road and a few hundred yards on entered another park.
This one he decided to circumnavigate in an elliptical way, eventually taking a path we usually avoid. Maybe it was a smell, maybe he’s a mind reader. You see he appeared to make a beeline for an empty area of grass that once contained a rather marvellous Barbara Hepworth sculpture.
This disappeared a few years ago at the height of the copper and bronze thefts we encountered – many train journeys were disrupted by copper wire being raided from track sides before new rules on scrap metal dealers reduced the outlet for the sales.
The Hepworth was, no doubt, rendered into a hundred quids worth of old bronze long before anyone realised it had been stolen and locally it was a tragedy. The Hepworth Estate who had the original mould refused to allow another to be cast so an alternative has been erected elsewhere using the insurance proceeds. It is used as a climbing frame mostly but it is enjoyed which is as it should be.
As Dog pissed his own, unique tribute to the theft I realised I shouldn’t feel sad. Indeed this is echoed by the Sex Pistols’ Jonny Rotten, who recently complained that his graffiti in Denmark Street has recently been listed (that’s preserved against demolition and removal). In his view this is wrong and merely blocks new talent coming through.
That green wall is a canvas for someone else. The theft allowed a newer artist an opportunity that the continued existence of the Hepworth would not.
So I do mourn their loss but I also anticipate their replacement with just as much energy and excitement. Sometimes it takes a hyperactive Dog with a capacious bladder to show me a different the way.