A Physically Interactive Sculpture

28 July 2012 · 0 comments

in Art & Music Outdoors

During my holidays I encountered a sculpture which for me provided more fun and interaction than any other I’ve met. It was the Lakeland Panorama on the sea front of Morecambe, created by Russ Coleman in 2004. It reflects the view across the Bay of the Lake District fells.

From afar, it’s clear that this piece of work is big and unavoidable. If you are walking along the promenade, it’s hard to ignore it. Most people have to turn and look, or sit and watch. Lake District lovers, like myself, have to see if we can look across the Bay and name the distant fells and link them to the panorama sculpture.

It’s possible to walk by it, on both sides but in between it’s like the wings on a stage. Because of this, when people walk through or behind it, you see the occasional bobbing of heads, so passers-by become the temporary cast of an ongoing live performance!

Naturally it’s the perfect place to play hide ‘n’ seek or peekaboo. Next time, I’d bring some hats and other accessories to develop the characters one can see on the fells, the water and by the seaside. Puppets would work well here too. The area in front of the panoramic panels provides a natural stage. It’s calling out to be a performance area.

The panorama is constructed of four panels of metal, one of which rises to 8ft high. It’s been made from the same steel as the Angel of the North so it has rusted gently to a reddish-brown finish. Aside from the wave-like look, I loved how the sand has been caught and gathered by the sculpture, adding to the overall effect and increasing the play value.

I’m so glad, this sculpture is regarded as a work of art and not a piece of playground equipment subjected to EU play regulations. The panels provided an interesting balancing challenge for one teenager. When I had a closer look, the panels provided a narrow sloped beam which made me realise what a good sense of balance this kid has… my son decided against trying this.

The choice of fells depicted fits in largely with the theme of the regeneration of Morecambe, known as The Tern Project. A fun challenge for people of all ages is to work out which of the fells have bird related names. Most of them on the Panorama do. The names have been created from raised steel lettering which add to the multi sensory appeal of this work.

One of the reasons we have public works of art is to inspire us. To help us think about an aspect of people, place or activity and to lead us to ask questions which may not have occurred to us before. The Lakeland Panorama certainly helps passes by use this part of the promenade in different ways and think about the view across the Bay. Afternoon stroll anyone?

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