Look at that Hergest, says the Owner. What do you see?
I see a picture of a Statue, I say. I think the Owner may be somewhat obsessed with Statues but since it is, undeniably, a picture of a Statue, there is little else I can say.
Sometimes, says the Owner, I am amazed at the Moral Dog’s lack of Observational Skills. What Else do you notice about it? Asks the Owner.
It is a rather Pretty Lady, I say. She appears to be Having a Lie Down, possibly after eating rather a lot of Pizza.
It is the Broadgate Venus, says the Owner, by the sculptor Botero. She weighs five tonnes.
That is a lot of Pizza, I say. It was rather good of him to Sculpt such an Unfortunate Woman, I say. I hope he paid her well. Perhaps after the Sculpting she was able to afford some Clothes.
Exactly, says the Owner. Exactly.
I do not see the Problem, I say.
It is because she is not wearing any clothes, says the Owner, that she is sculpted. In 2018 the Public Monuments database recorded 706 public statues of lone figures in the UK. Only 174 were female, whilst 534 were male. 80 of the women were named, and 29 of those were Queen Victoria, whereas 422 of the men were named, and 43 of them were named John. There were 65 male politicians, but no female politicians. Most of the Unnamed Men were dressed as soldiers, whilst in the case of most of the Unnamed Women their Occupation was Difficult to Establish since they were Extremely Impoverished in the Clothing department. Of the 84 Unnamed Women who were short of Clothing only one wore anything that could really Keep the Rain Off, and that was a Hat. Half of the women were mythical or allegorical figures, compared to only 45 of the men. In the end there were 25 statues of historical, non-royal women but 498 of historical, non-royal men. What does that tell us?
It tells us that Most Important People in History take care to wear their clothes, when they meet a Sculptor I say.
The Moral Dog is Taking the Michael, says the Owner. It tells us that History records the achievements of those who Write It, but the rest of us seem to feel obliged to live with that Narrative on the Somewhat Tenuous Basis that even if it no longer represents, and possibly never represented, our Shared History or our Moral Consensus, it is Public Art.
80 named women is not so bad I say. After all, were not most Important Persons in the Past Men?
Wash your Mouth out with Soap, says the Owner.
I was being Provocative, I say, in order to Enable your Narrative.
My narrative does not need enabling, says the Owner. It is time that the community reconsiders what it wants public art to say, and who it wants to say it about. We should not be Obliged to Accept the Moral Values of the past without Reevaluation. It is a poor reflection of Modern Moral Values that if you are a Woman, your best chance at becoming a statue is to be a Queen, an Allegory, a Goddess, a Virgin, a Myth or, simply, naked.
At least the Goalposts are clearly laid out for you, I say, should you wish to be Commemorated in Marble. Ouch. What was that for?
I accidentally fell onto the Moral Dog’s toe, says the Owner, in my distress and dismay.
People who stand on their Dog’s Toes do not become Statues, I say. I only meant you should change your name to John, I say.
The Moral Dog will sing a different tune when he finds out how many of the Statues were Dogs, says the Owner.
I imagine All of the Remaining Forty, I say. After all, there must surely be statues to Gelert the Brave, Greyfriars Bobby, The Hergest Hound, Lassie, Beethoven, Batdog, Lady and the Tramp, All Hundred and One of the Dalmatians…
There is no such person as Batdog, says the Owner.
I can say nothing about Batdog, even though we meet him in the Park every day. It is not for Superdog to give away his secret. It is an impoverished number, I agree, I say instead, but I imagine they were at least all Named.
They were not entirely all Dogs, says the Owner.
How many? I ask. Thirty-nine? I ask.
Three, says the Owner.
Three? I say.
Three, says the Owner.
At least there are presumably none of Ducks, I say.
One of Ducks, says the Owner, although there are several Ducks in it.
I am not even going to ask about Squirrels. It is Outrageous, I say. I cannot believe there is a Statue of Ducks, I say. I shall write to the Mayor of London at Once, I say.
The Mayor is Already On It, says the Owner. He has said today that it is an uncomfortable truth that our city owes much of its wealth to its role in the slave trade, and that while this is reflected in our public statues, the contribution of many of our communities to our life has been ignored. He suggests that it is time to commemorate those who have made London what it is, and to question which legacies are being celebrated.
That sounds promising, I say. Although he did not specifically mention the Legacy of Dogs, I say I will draw up a list of Suggestions at once.
Do not put Batdog in it, says the Owner, or he will not take you Seriously.
Sometimes I am amazed at the Owner’s lack of Observational Skills.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.