22 June 2013

Beached Whale Art in Greenwich, London

The latest piece of outdoors installation art in London has caused a few raised eyebrows to say the least.  A life-size fiberglass sculpture of a beached whale has been placed on the bank of the River Thames at Greenwich, in London.

It is so realistic that a number of people have believed it to be real.  Reports of small children bawling their heads off are at the moment unsubstantiated but, nevertheless, believable.  To add to the realism, performers dressed as experts can be seen assessing the situation around the 17 meter beached mammal while real experts explain what would happen if this happened again to the crowds of bemused tourists who are drawn to the carcass.

Above you can see the rather macabre work being put in to its temporary riverside home. However, the artwork is not designed (necessarily) to frighten the kids: it is part of the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival and relives (if that is the right word) the real beaching of a real whale seven years ago in 2006. The installation harkens back to Greenwich’s role at the center of the British whaling industry in the 1700s.  There doesn’t seem to be any record of whales historically being caught in the Thames, however.

It could be argued that, were the same idea applied to a human subject, some might find the whole happening rather tasteless. Any number of people die on the streets of London every year.  Were their demise to be revisited in a similarly artistic way one can only imagine a few complaints being made.

Still, most would agree that a whale of a time can still be had elsewhere in Greenwich.

First Image DocklandsBoy