Posted by John Billingsley
Cutting the ties that bind?
I don't have a problem with the George Square redesign (though I have big problems, from an environmentalist standpoint as well as other perspectives, with the new traffic scheme). I think the sculptures reflect the roughness of local history and culture and any objection to them is really a matter of taste. I was concerned that the redevelopment might reduce the area available to the Midgley pace-eggers, whose Easter performance livens up the square considerably.
So the question for me comes down to the choice of the fustian knife as a sculpture-cum-sundial. In the right place, the image of a fustian knife would be appropiate to the history of Hebden Bridge. But I do ask whether it is appropriate in a square which is at the heart of Hebden Bridge both geographically and socially. When it comes down to it, a knife is a knife, and its message is - a knife. It is symbolic of cutting, stabbing - not at all of, say, unity, which was at the heart of the co-operative movement in the town; its cutting effect can already be seen in the rancour that has split the letters column of the local newspaper. Every time one sees a knife, one is reminded of these associations - the knife sculpture will thus be a permanent monument to the power of severance.
Chinese traditions of 'feng-shui' - of which we have a debased version in this country - take the power of symbolism on individual and social psychology very strongly. To stick a knife into the heart of a community - which is precisely what our short-sighted Hebden Bridge planners are doing - will do just that, and a feng-shui practitioner would be horrified that anyone would even consider such a thing.
The power of symbolism is not some distant Chinese fancy - British folk tradition has it, too, when it says knives should not be positioned so that they point at anyone, or should not be left crossed on a table.
From Andy M
I think any type of sculpture would have caused controversy in HB - including a big fluffy red squirrel!
I must say Stoodley Pike doesn't inspire me to start persecuting French people and I don't think a fustian knife will overly disturb my karma and have me laying about nearbye fabrics. However, some sort of monument to New Age err culture could be appropriate though - perhaps with that very HB green nimby slant - a diorama of Chainsaw Tuesday? Too confrontational.
How about a big set of wind chimes?
Knives, gnomes, cobbles, wavy steps and all that
Here's a bit of criteria: Even if you do think any of this looks good now and next week, you have to consider what all this stuff will look like in 2, 5, 10, 30 or even 50 years time. If it's ever going to look 'so last week', so like they tried so hard to make it look like a weaving theme park for the tourists and prospective customers; it isn't addressing the 'design problem' correctly. Perhaps the hoops of fire the planning has to go through don't address the correct issues.
That concludes my small rant, thank you for your patience and tolerance.
From Andy M
I'm not desparately fussed what the improvements will look like in 30 or 50 years - I can't predict taste that far - no-one can, and art and design are dynamic anyway.
I wouldn't have chosen the paving myself but I think its much better than putting in traditional sets - as you say, we don't live in a heritage park (whatever that is - a misconceived representation of non-existen 'good ole' days?)
The steps, in my opinion, look great and I hope they continue them into the river to give a nice, organic look. Need to do something about the pigeons though.
Given unlimited planning power (and a lot of cash) I would have levelled most of Bridge Street and replaced it with modern designs using glass, metal, wood, concrete and stone maximising the bankside and pedestrian resources . . . but I'm not a planner or an architect.
I do wish the tedious anti-everything brigade would shut-up in the HB Times though . . . an achievable objective?
"I do wish the tedious anti-everything brigade would shut-up in the HB Times though" .Oh Andy . . .
Why is it that people love Hebden Bridge, want to live here and sometimes achieve it , and then proceed to find large and small ways to alter the town? They begin to destroy the ambience of the very thing that attracted them in the first place by their "improvements".Its like "Hebden would be really good if only....". As a local I find the pace of change is altering the town so much that I dont enjoy being in it these days much.
From Andy M
OK they're entitled to their opinion as much as anyone else but I find that its the constant nimby moaning that compromises my enjoyment of the town!
Thinking about it further though I do appreciate your point Zilly that you have something you like and don't want to see it compromised - who would? However, we can't live in a static environment and the changes are going to improve public utility despite their sometimes questionable taste.
See also previous threads