Morecambe Beneath the Façade
There’s a sculpture in Morecambe’s West End called “The Fishing Rod”. You might not see it as such from a distance but close up the clues are there including a hook and little pool of fish. The movement in the piece (how your eyes move - not the sculpture) is descriptive of a fishing rod in the hands of an angler but what first drew me to it was how decay, as a feature, was built into it’s design.
I’ve seen this before where untreated and unprotected steel, making up the body of the sculpture, is purposefully left to rust. It might appear unsightly in the early days but eventually the rusty exterior becomes uniform and stable. What many don’t realise is that rust actually forms a protective barrier. It’s burnt steel that, because it’s no longer combustible, creates a skin protecting the steel beneath.
Raw iron starts out as a rust-like substance. Great energy is fed into digging it up and then smelting it, removing the oxygen and turning it into an industrial material. But when left to it’s own devices iron re-absorbs oxygen in the process of oxidisation and reverts to it’s original state — nature’s way of reclaiming it’s own, perpetuating the cycle of life even through inorganic objects and materials.
Our protective barrier is the layer of skin covering our bodies. It’s essentially dead or dying and is continually rubbed off to present a new layer. The layer of skin that’s actually thriving and producing life is hidden and protected. People recognise us by our mannerisms and affectations, habits developed over time. Only those closest to us see us in the flesh, everyone else sees us in whatever way we present ourselves. We live behind masks and façades just as nature protects it’s own behind natural barriers.
Bright shiny people and bright shiny objects can distract us from the grime and grim reality of our everyday lives. The bright and gaudy decoration inside Morecambe’s Winter Gardens theatre allowed ordinary people to escape into the totally unreal world of show business…