In 1951 the Festival of Britain showcased the best of British and gave the nation an excuse to have a jolly good knees up and forget about the hardships the previous decade had wrought upon them. That was sixty years ago. 2011 will see a multitude of celebrations of the Festival’s anniversary. Among them is Urban Fox.
Ask any Londoner and they will have an opinion on foxes living in the English capital. Most will simply shrug; foxes have become as much a part of the London landscape as sparrows (despite the fact that those particular feathered friends seem to be in terminal decline). There seems to be hardly a street in London without its own resident Vulpes vulpes. Yet their reputation for leaving us alone received a blow last year when two small children were attacked by foxes in separate incidents.
So, to use the fox as a symbol representing the blend of country and city which can be found in London was an obvious if somewhat controversial choice. Although he seems to be widely touted as representative of the Hayward Gallery at the Southbank Center, he is actually sitting at the back of Queen Elizabeth Hall. However, what is a little geography between friends? He certainly seems more than happy to be where he is.
He is certainly proving to be one of the most head turning of the new installations at the center. He has only been up a day but has acquired a nickname already – Wicker Fox, which unquestionably puts the idea in to this writer’s head to send out a search party for Edward Woodward. However, he is created from bales of straw so however fun the nickname, it is misleading. Knowing Londoners, it will probably stick anyway!
Some have speculated that this fox looks rather doleful. However, to my eye he seems as much urbane as urban. Should the balmy spring weather continue no doubt this fantastic Mr Fox will become yet another popular tourist attraction in London.
5However, if (or rather when) it rains one can only hope that he has been robustly constructed. Even if it stays dry, keep your fingers crossed that he doesn’t attract the attention of some passing druids of the old order.