Friday, 19 September 2008

Faraday Monument, Elephant & Castle SE1

For me, this thing epitomises everything that is wrong with modern architecture and sculpture.
As a composition it is good, a simple rectilinear shape enclosed by a strong arms of steel. As a show it is great, especially at night when its aluminium panels reflect the lights of the city. And the symbolism is superb - it is a monument to the great pioneer of electricity, Michael Faraday, who was born close by, and it contains a working electricity substation sending power to the Tube.
But very few of the drivers who circle it day and night realise what it is. For them, it is just an object in the middle of the roundabout, just about visible past the advertising hoardings.
As a monument, it does nothing for the memory of one of Britain's greatest scientists. As a sculpture, it can be appreciated only by the few pedestrians brave enough to pass through the dark, threatening, urine-soaked subways to the central island.
Faraday deserves better.

2 comments:

CarolineLD said...

A good point well made. I travel past this most days and never realised that it was a monument to Faraday. I'll look at it more carefully next time!

Chris said...

Thanks Caroline, and as an ex-Deptfordian I like your blog too! I've not been back for a while - the Ben Pimlott building looks interesting, so I must return soon.