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Are the Four Gateways art or abomination? It’s down to personal taste

PUBLISHED: 08:53 24 November 2018

The Four Gateways artwork has been installed on the Ipswich Cornhill. Picture: PAUL GEATER

The Four Gateways artwork has been installed on the Ipswich Cornhill. Picture: PAUL GEATER


The Four Gateways artwork on the Ipswich Cornhill has certainly provoked a strong reaction on social media since it was revealed to the world at the end of last week.

Leaving aside the fact that it isn’t yet finished – the grey faces have to be polished to look glossy – the new feature certainly seems to be something that has provoked strong views.

Of course artwork should provoke strong emotions. There is nothing worse than a piece of public art that is so bland that no one has a view about it.

But the ferocity of the social media criticism this time has been so strong, and one sided, that I’ve been scratching my head to think about what has got into people.

There’s even been one councillor saying “We need to find out (why they were put up) as this must never happen again and lessons need to be learnt.”

I’m sorry, but that sounds very much like the Thought Police of 1984 investigating the artistic tastes of those (all party) politicians who made the decision to approve the artwork. That is very worrying!

What is also interesting is that several people, including those at the Gateways themselves, have come up to me to say “They’re not a bad as I thought after all that’s been written about them.”

I am now wondering what the reaction will be once they are polished and in their finished state.

As they stand at the moment they aren’t what I would call beautiful. I’m not convinced they will look “beautiful” when they are finished. But they’ve got presence – and when finished I think they could be an attractive entrance to the Cornhill.

This kind of artwork seems to fit in well in other town and city centres. Why not Ipswich?

We have to remember that art is a subjective matter. There is no right or wrong when it comes to art – it is all a matter of personal taste.

A couple of years ago I went to the Louvre during a visit to Paris. I saw the Mona Lisa. I’d never understood why it was considered so special before – an opinion that was reinforced by this small, dull painting in a room with dimmed lights.

But I know many consider it THE finest western art masterpiece of all time. They have their opinion, I have mine. If everyone thought the same what a dull world we’d live in!

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