On a small side street in deepest Peckham, without notice or warning, can be found a piece of Antony Gormley art work. Hundreds of cars drive over it every day without notice. Hundreds of pedestrians walk by unaware.
For it is a manhole cover in the middle of the road.
Commissioned about a decade ago by Thames Water as an experimental idea to have artists design manhole covers, the idea never got past the concept, so just this one example exists.
As a concept, I quite like the idea, and I especially like how they wanted the design to be in the metal structure, rather than painted on as in some countries.
The manhole cover is, as you might expect from the artist in some way related to the human form, and in this situation, the man has covered the manhole with representations of the man’s feet. His feet in fact.
“you’re invited to go stand it on it and feel yourself suspended, as it were, between the great infinity of the blue dome of the sky and this river of human ordure that is flowing beneath your feet”, says Gormley in an audioguide.
I dutifully stood on the manhole cover and contemplated deep thoughts about how artists get away with writing such bollocks, and then darted swiftly away as this is a modestly busy road junction and standing in the middle of the street is a most unwise idea.
“He died contemplating art” is not how I want my gravestone to read. It’d be embarrassing.
You can find the spot for deep contemplation on the junction between Maxted Road and Sandison Street in Peckham (map link).
Update — the manhole cover has since been stolen and replaced with a generic cover — my views on that over here.