‘Will divide opinions’: massive Weston-super-Mare installation opens | Art

It rises above the Grand Pier and makes the big wheel on the seashore look tiny. Taking shape on the beach in Weston-super-Mare, See Monster, a decommissioned North Sea gas platform converted into one of the UK’s largest public art installations, provoked a dizzying mix of squint, interest and anger.

Finally, after delays caused by the variability of extreme weather conditions this summer (sometimes very hot, other times very windy), visitors are invited to climb aboard this weekend.

Patrick O’Mahony, the creative director of the project, acknowledged that the track would not be to everyone’s taste. “We knew it would divide opinions. I would rather people love or hate him than be indifferent. There’s nothing worse than doing something people don’t react to.”

The installation is produced as the ninth installment in the Unboxed: Creativity in UK series (aka Brexit Festival), which has been the subject of widespread criticism and ridicule, not least because of the cost of the project: four UK countries.

O’Mahony said he regretted that Unboxed was being ridiculed. “We are close to the other nine commissions. The arts and entertainment have had a tough time and it was incredible to invest this level of investment in the industry. These projects have been worked on for years. People should be judged by the work they do.”

People have been prosecuting See Monster since the 450-tonne platform was brought to the town of Somerset in July and transported across the North Sea on a barge larger than a football field. The scale makes it hard to ignore – at 35 feet, it’s 15 feet taller than the Angel of the North.

Artists, engineers, and gardeners created a 10-metre-high waterfall representing the roar of the beast, and 6,000 pieces of aluminum that shimmer in the wind like the scales of a mythical beast. The platform’s 16-foot crane boom is the neck and head of the creature.

The public will be greeted on board for the first time since Saturday. Photo: Ben Birchall/PA

Other features include a cloud machine, a tree and herb garden, sculptures, and mechanisms that generate renewable energy to power at least part of the installation. BBC Radio’s transport forecast is relayed to the overhead helipad, with stunning views of Somerset, Devon and the south Wales hills.

The idea is to provoke conversations about topics like how industrial structures can be redesigned, how the world should run off fossil fuels, sustainability and the British weather.

The ironies are many. It’s not the fact that renewable energy is the central theme of this government-backed installation – but UK business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg has made it clear that he wants to squeeze “every cubic centimeter of gas” out of the North Sea. using platforms like this.

Ella Gilbert, climate scientist at the British Antarctic Survey and consultant to See Monster, does not directly criticize the UK government, but said: “The science is very clear. We need to move away from fossil fuels. We need to raise our ambition very dramatically when it comes to climate change. It’s a creative way to show how we’re doing it.”

Another irony is that while sustainability is another theme, See Monster’s stay in Weston will be very brief. There are concerns that its huge presence may have a negative impact on the birds overwintering here, so it will close in early November.

New homes will be found for plants and artwork, but the platform itself will be cut down and the pieces transported by truck for recycling. As their monsters perish, the makers insist that the lessons they learn will be used by people around the world to transform unused platforms into art installations, hotels or diving platforms.

Until it disappears, it is hoped that See Monster will give Weston the same boost that Banksy’s Dismaland – a twisted version of Disneyland – did in 2015.

“This brought a different kind of tourist to Weston,” said Walter Byron, who serves as the See Monster host. I want him to stay and put a restaurant on top of it.

Sarah Windall, a second presenter who also works as a materials teacher, said: “There’s a lot of skepticism. Some complain that their money comes from their taxes, but I think it’s a smart way to look at the future through art.”

Among those watching the finishing touches being put on the beast was Weston resident Elaine Day, who celebrated her 76th birthday with a trip to see how the work was progressing.

“This is something different,” he said. “I think it’s good for the town. People come here on their holidays and ask, ‘What’s in there?’ they say. It puts Weston on the map.”

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