Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Public art 1: The blind beggar by Elizabeth Frink 1959

This is going to be first post in an occasional series about public art. There is so much art on display in formal squares, on street corners and in gardens in London that I feel the urge to comment on some of it.

I pass this sculpture regularly when I am on the no 8 bus heading down Roman Road. It is a piece of public art in the sense that you can see it from the main road but it is on private property in the gardens of a group of bungalows on the Cranbrook Estate. So unless you can get to know someone who lives there this is as close as you are going to get to it.

I included my wonky video because I enjoy the sound of the fountain playing in the background. I made a quick sketch of it from a nearby bench where I could spread out and while I was drawing I thought that it was merely of a man taking his dog for a walk. But it turns out it represents The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green who is said to be a local mythological figure dating back to the seventeenth century. This bronze sculpture stands eight feet tall and was created by Elizabeth Frink in 1959 having been commissioned by Bethnal Green Metropolitan Borough.

The blind beggar is also represented at other sites in Bethnal Green and at the pub of the same name in Whitechapel which is notorious for the Kray twins killing of George Cornell in 1966.

I would love it if our borough council chose to site a fabulous piece of sculpture outside our house and perhaps include a fountain but I'm afraid it's never going to happen.

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