The annual Art & About Sydney event has descended upon our fine city and once again the average punter is probably scratching their head in bewilderment, wondering what it’s all about. Last year the festival saw the erection of a typical suburban home outside the Hyde Park Barracks. Inside there was a constant rainfall and you needed to put on a raincoat just to brave this walk-through drenching experience.
At the time, the irony of the city’s homeless continually dealing with the winter rain as they slept rough, did not escape us. We would have loved to have seen the costly prefab house moved to Walla Mulla park in the ‘Loo to become emergency accommodation but sadly it disappeared as quickly as it was first erected.
Oh well, after all, we are talking about ‘art’ and who are we to criticise this slab of cultural largesse funded by the public purse when it brings joy to the faces of small kiddies and yet another photo-op for a busload of Chinese tourists.
Take the Snailovation installations for example, which feature some twenty-four mega molluscs, spread around the city and billed as “an inspiring reminder of the importance of environmental awareness and action”. The luridly coloured gastropods, which have already done the rounds of the overseas art circuit and would not look out of place at Clive Palmer’s dinosaur park, are a variation of the brightly painted fibreglass cows that dotted the streets of Sydney some years ago.
At the time the psychedelic moo-cows quickly became a security risk and we seem to recall at least one case of ‘cow-napping’, not to mention numerous incidents of drunken weekend louts attempting to ride the hapless bovines. It does however beg the question what security arrangements have been made to safeguard the whopping 100kg snails, especially during the late night hours when the hoons and ram-raiders normally run amok?
No doubt the city’s extensive network of surveillance cameras will come into play and maybe a ‘Snail Attack’ swat team will be on standby at the Town Hall, ready to go to the rescue of any installation under attack. The Lord Mayor Clover Moore is already on record as stating “These giant snails will bring a sense of fun, culture and creativity to our city,” and it would be a major international embarrassment if one or two were to go missing (later resurfacing at a certain dinosaur park in Queensland).
Personally the snails are a bit too Disneyesque for our liking, a bit like the giant yellow ducky that graced the Sydney Festival earlier this year. We would have clearly opted for something a bit more edgy, out there, challenging and uniquely homegrown – maybe a giant funnel-web spider or a humongous illuminated redback ready to scare the daylights out of any late-night acid tripper.
We can’t quite see the relevance of snails as “an inspiring reminder of the importance of environmental awareness and action”. Let’s face it, you either eat them, l’esgargot style, or you detest them – and given the latter there’s no greater pleasure than crunching one of the slimey suckers underfoot!