Time for some Free Art. Just three pieces this year, scattered around Southampton on Christmas Eve. With a bit of luck these pictures will find their owners and they'll all live happily ever after. Of course this might not happen and they'll be swept away with the rest of the post partying detritus.
This is where to find them:
going underground, being looked after by Stewie
muscling in on British Art Show #8
I've been onstage at this venue, as have Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Not all at the same time.
So what is inside the wrapping paper? A couple of portraits, a pair of elegantly wasted wastrels, and a view from a window in a verity naif style (ie, painted by a 12 year old).
There's a new shopping development in Southampton city centre. To quote Swift "Haters gonna hate" (sorry, that was Taylor S not Dean S). There are those who see change as a negative, wishing we could return things to the way they were. You can never go home.
Turning the clock would return this spot to the sea (it's all on reclaimed land) or, if you didn't go back that far, a Pirelli factory. The housing in the area closest was simply slum housing. What is there now is big, brash, shiny, definitely a shrine to rampant consumerism, full of people, life, vigour. It's a spectacular building - or a bog standard off the shelf mall - I don't know, I'm no expert.
There was a time a while back Ikea came to Southampton. What will happen, said the critics, on a Saturday, when there are several cruise ships, Saints (Southampton FC) are playing at home and Ikea is there too? The answer they were looking for was gridlock, parking problems, queues in the shops. The answer I would give is a busy thriving city looking to the future, drawing business to itself, creating new jobs, creating new opportunity. If it doesn't come here it'll head for Portsmouth or Brighton or Swindon or who knows where.
I'm not a fan of rampant commercialism but I would rather live in a city that was reaching for the future not living in the past. I commend the developers of West Quay phase two, or Southampton Watermark or whatever it is called. Hammerson (the owners), ACME (architect and master planner) Grant Associates (landscape designers). Nice job.