Goodbye Elliot

It was with a heavy heart that I read this tweet from the V&A Waterfront account, yesterday.

Yes, after three years valiant service to the Waterfront and its visitors, Elliot, the iconic Coca Cola “crateman” is to be dismantled.

I’m taking the kids along to see Eliot for one last time this afternoon. Doubtless, there will be tears: he’s been a big part of their lives, with every visit to the Waterfront necessitating a trip to his feet. (And occasionally slightly higher when Dad wasn’t looking.)
Rarely have I been moved so much by a piece of art.

Note those tiny kids at his right foot, 10 August 2010.

Previously, Elliot has also featured on this blog, when an angry man described him as:

a monument to mediocrity, global exploitation and humankind’s dysfunctional health and disregard for our treasured eco-heritage.

and I defended the sculpture, using the tools of rationality, accuracy and ridicule.

Those were the days.

But now, it’s Elliot’s time to move on to a better place.
Although, looking at that second photo, is there really a better place?

Goodbye Elliot. Hamba Kahle, old friend.
And thank you for all the joy you’ve brought my kids and me.

Get Real, V&A

Oh dear. Someone is unhappy. And it’s about this:

Do you, like me, see a smiling sculpture made up of several thousand plastic crates, constantly updated to represent the Cape Town Zeitgeist? Or, maybe like Chris Andrews of University Estate (via today’s Cape Times’ letters page), you see a

…crass assemblage of Coca-Cola crates at the V&A Waterfront… a monument to mediocrity, global exploitation and humankind’s dysfunctional health and disregard for our treasured eco-heritage.

Wow. Steady on, Chris Andrews. I recognise that this could be classed as “art”, and therefore there are no right and wrong answers here. And I also completely respect your right to express your opinion.

But seriously? I’m really not sure how you managed to get from a friendly looking heap of red plastic to blaming the V&A Waterfront for all of mankind’s worst traits. A stretch of note.

I sense that you don’t like the crate man. Does his Olympic gold medal really scream “mediocrity” to you? Does the way he sits so jauntily between the fishing port and the dry dock make you honestly make you wonder about how we’re collectively not looking after our bodies? Or is it perhaps his smile that invokes a sharp sense of injustice regarding our alleged lack of respect for the planet?

Look, I know where you’re coming from. Art is emotive. It is meant to challenge. Why, the first time I saw Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in 1988, I was immediately hit with intense and disconcerting feelings over society’s treatment of the poor, the exploitation of dogs working at Singapore Airport, the appalling lack of praise afforded to Kylie Minogue and extreme disappointment at the average life span of a standard 60W incandescent light bulb.

And yet, when I voiced these feelings, I was shouted down. People said I was reading too much into 0.4081 square metres of oil on canvas. Looking back, I don’t really blame them. They were right.
I guess some people are saying the same to you about your views on the crate man. And I don’t really blame them either.

Your letter continues:

So not cool. Away with this eyesore, V&A – in the Design Capital of the World, what were you thinking?

I hate people that begin sentences like that with “So”. So unnecessary.

For your information, Chris Andrews, Crateman was revealed just ahead of the World Cup in 2010. South Korean capital Seoul was the World Design Capital in 2010. Additionally, a quick check of any sort of reasonable fact book or interweb site (I suggest or would indicate that the Finnish city of Helsinki is the current (2012) World Design Capital.

From your statement, am I to therefore understand that the V&A have installed an equally hideous (in your view) monstrosity somewhere in Finland? What on earth would prompt them to do that? Is that where my car parking cash is going?

Suddenly I can understand your anger.

But no, Chris Andrews. Cape Town will become World Design Capital in 2014, when sculptures made of Coke crates and the like will surely be de rigour.

I know. So not cool.

UPDATE: See anib’s comment below and look at her Helsinki pics.