Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nursery Crime

Just before I came here, a couple of years ago, my Boss had decided to make the place a bit more family friendly by creating a walk for children. It's a lovely concept. A gentle stroll, surrounded by imagery from familiar children's stories and rhymes.

My Boss being my Boss, however, didn't ask for any input at the planning stages, and just went for what seemed like a good idea to him at the time. If he had asked any of the numerous parents we have working here to test walk it first, or tell him what they would look for in a children's trail, it could have all been so different. As for the images en route, some subtle touches like a bell pull on a tree, some wood carvings or sculptures, maybe, would have blended with the landscape and been fun to spot. As it is, the artwork - and I use the term in the loosest possible way - was completed by the wife of one of his mates and can be seen from space.

The final result is a bizarre array of incredibly badly painted pictures, mounted on boards, weathering badly, randomly dotted along a walk that includes two sets of steep steps and a marsh. I have to send people off on this, when they turn up and ask if the Nursery Rhyme Trail is open. I do my best to warn them - sensible footwear, I say. Does involve steps, I warn. I have yet to find a way of saying sorry about the boards, please don't have nightmares.

I shall now take you on a virtual journey, so you can share my anguish.

This is the Wildflower Meadow. Not much in the way of wildflowers at the moment, granted, but still very pretty and perfectly pleasant. So far so good.

But behind you is a horrible thing. You can tell it's meant to be Humpty Dumpty, but it is not even egg shaped. And it has something very wrong with its legs. I wish it'd hurry up and have a great fall, so I can put it in the skip.

Now, this is meant to be Snow White's cottage. The dwarves are bigger than she is though, which bothers me.

The Three Little Pigs. I can accept that the house of straw and the house of sticks will be piss poor, as that's the point. But the house of bricks is meant to be strong and wolf-proof. This interpretation shows that the third little pig didn't bother with any foundations, or mortar, and didn't have enough bricks. The message to the kids is that, by rights, this pig should be so much wolf shit by now and that chicken wire is, in fact, the optimum building material.

What can I say? Oh, for a flame thrower.

After negotiating the steep flight of stairs down the side of the embankment we now find ourselves in the boggy bit. The unwary step off the end of the bridge onto what looks like solid ground, only to find it is actually a big green spongey mass that will suck your shoes off your feet while simultaneously releasing clouds of mosquitos.

Yes. It is supposed to be Mole and Ratty. Mole looks far more like a big poo, inexplicably wearing a suit, though.

What has happened to Tigger's lips? Why is Eeyore so wide?

This is a Billy Goat Gruff. He has been on steroids.

The steps back up to the non-scary world! Not exactly pushchair friendly. Not easy to climb with a toddler in tow, either. You have to lean quite a way to your right to reach the rail, in places, while nettles abound at toddler bare ankle height. Pretty though.

And to complete the tour, the final gate, which opens towards the steps, so if you had managed to get that far with some super all terrain mega pushchair, you now have to reverse back down while trying to open the gate at the same time. Tricky.

Next month I meet with the conservators and curators as part of the property conservation plan. This trail is on my hit list. The good thing about all that flakey, gaudy paint is that those boards are going burn brilliantly.


cogidubnus said...

For once I am lost for your label, I can only ask why oh why oh why?

The only positive things I could find in its favour are that it makes Margate seafront look like a classy option and rockpooling on Morecambe sands a healthy option...

betty said...

Was the person responsible for Billy Goat Gruff under the impression that they had to design a cow until about ten minutes before the project had to be completed?

Doris said...

Cogidubnus - yes, I concur. And I am too far from civilisation to destroying the lot and blaming it on passing vandals.

Betty - I don't think "design" was a concept well understood by the person responsible for this particular project.

Reg Pither said...

Excellent stuff, Doris! Quite the funniest thing I have read in a while.
Might I just add one or two other observations, from the non-parent end of the ground?
Firstly, there only appear to be six giant dwarfs (or is it a midget Snow White?). I don't recall Agorophobic being one of the girl's seven pals.
Secondly, Little Miss Muffet appears to have been disturbed while having a shit!
Thirdly, I think it should be pointed out to the children that Moley, as well as being a loyal pal to Ratty, does an excellent impression of Max Wall.
Finally, what, exactly, do you say to your little visitors when they say "Ooh, look mummy! Tigger's got his knob out"?

stitchwort said...

That is amazing!
If only I knew where you were, I would rush round in order to experience fully the Nursery Rhyme Trail.
A version of this could be a winner at next year's Chelsea Flower Show.

Boz said...

Why this piece on interactive non-performance based art hasn't made it to the Turner shortlist I cannot figure.
Hilarious, Doris, hilarious...

Doris said...

Reg - You're quite right, one of the dwarves is missing. I'd hoped he'd met with some terrible accident, though it transpired he had gone away for a fresh coat of paint. Damn it. Little Miss Muffet is actually a new "design". In the original she had her mouth open in an "O" of surprise and her hands up each side of her face. No fingers though, they were like pink mittens. As she weathered she looked like nothing so much as an inflatable sex doll. After several comments this new, seated, on the lav style pose appeared. As for your final question, I try not to get involved in nob talk with the youngsters.

Stitchwort - that's the best idea, ever. I can see it now. We'd probably do quite well until they discovered we didn't have special needs after all.

Boz - I know, but even *I* have trouble appreciating it, so what chance the rest of the art world?

Catherine Czerkawska said...

I was reading the comments at the end, still gobsmacked, when the observation about the goat and the cow finished me off. I was drinking a mug of tea at the time, and am still coughing..
Brilliant. Completely brilliant. Cheered up a miserable wet day for me.

Doris said...

Hello Catherine, thank you for your kind comment and also for stopping by. I am now torn as to what to do with the Trail as it may just be so bad it's good. While it's giving pleasure in some form, is it right to take a flamethrower to it?