Commissioned by Blackpool Council and created by artist Gordon Young, the Comedy Carpet was something I’d been longing to see. With my youngest sibling a resident of Blackpool, I leapt at the chance to sneak off to the town for an overnight stay on her sofa, from which you can see the glittering tower at all hours of the day and night. With a Saturday afternoon to kill by myself, I finally got the chance to walk around the Carpet, the largest piece of public art ever commissioned.
Why Not Associates designed the 2200 square feet of typography, which uses 160,000 individually cut letters showcasing the words of 850 comedians and writers. All those figures don’t mean a lot, though, till you stand in the shadow of the tower at one corner of this massive and lovely artwork, and wander around it. I would like to have been laughing more at the jokes, but I couldn’t get past the size and complexity of the piece, thinking about the five years it took to make and the scale of it.
While I was there, people rode their bikes on it, sat on it, ate their chips on it, read it, laughed at the jokes, drank coffee while sitting on it, photographed it – sometimes arranging themselves around the phrases as if they were saying them – or just perched on the surrounding benches, watching the sea from over the cool, smooth stone and concrete. The wind was a bit fresh, and the sky grumbly, but it didn’t seems to put off any of these hard Lancastrians and their even more determined visitors.
It is one of the most impressive pieces of art I have ever seen, public or otherwise. Prettiness or scale I enjoy, but because I’m knocked for six by anything which merges art and engineering to spectacular effect, and because this is also a breathtakingly big dose of beautifully-set type, it beats anything I’ve seen before. Along with my Blackpudlian nephew who’s due to fanfare his way into existence any time now, it will be right there for anybody to walk, ride, lie or eat chips on for many decades for come.
The carpet under construction:
The carpet finished, from the very top of the Tower:
Phew. It’s exhausting. Only fat, salt and mustard can possibly aid my recovery…
See full post here: Inkymole2012-04-04.