Monday 12 September 2011

A Very Glorious Exception

Heaven knows, I'm no fan of 'public art'. Too often it's a pretext for 'statements' of clumping banality and/or monuments of kitsch ugliness (Exhibit A: that monstrous statue, The Meeting Place, at St Pancras). However, there are many exceptions, and this weekend, up in Derbyshire, I was present at the unveiling of a very glorious exception.
This website gives you the basic facts about the project, but of course it can't convey the magic of the setting, or of the opening ceremony. Two or three hundred people had climbed the hillside above town to get to the site. There had been a cloudburst shortly before, which lent the Star Disc a beautiful watery sheen, but then the sun came blazing out from under cloud, bathing the wide views in a breathtaking golden light. As it grew darker and the ceremony got under way, the moon appeared from between clouds exactly as a speaker spoke the word 'Moon', then slipped back behind the cloud for a while before rising splendidly later in the evening...
I should declare an interest, as the artist who created the Star Disc is my cousin's husband, but I don't think I'd have been any less impressed if he was a stranger. This project, it seems to me, exemplifies what good public art should be - beautiful in itself and giving pleasure, but also serving a useful public function (in this case several, including an educational one) and enhancing the place where it sits. It's a fine example of human intervention perfecting the landscape, bringing it to a kind of completion (though, being human, it will pass).
It took real vision to spot the potential of this site, and a whole heap of other qualities to carry the project through to completion. The magic of the ceremony was transitory of course - you had to be there - but the magic of the disc itself and its glorious setting will long endure. If you're in that part of Derbyshire, make for the Star Disc - as it happens, you can get to it be climbing the steep road up from the
Perfect Bookshop.


  1. Ah, wish I could have been there Nige. Look forward to visiting it on my next trip to Blighty!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Thank you for your kind words.