BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘John McKenna’

#365daysofbiking Monumental

May 5th – Looping back into town, I caught sight of Morris, the Brownhills Miner, a statue and work of art I hold dear.

Morris is not particularly accurate, or even a true representation of our history, as such, with Brownhills actually maturing as a town long after the immediately local mining had all but ceased. But he captures the spirit of our town, and our collective history, reflecting that many Brownhillian lads were miners, but working in pits in adjacent towns and villages.

Morris is also uncomfortably Soviet, to anyone who’s any experience of Eastern Bloc public art; he’s exactly the sort of thing many soviet states would have willingly erected.

But this lad, pick and lamp aloft, is ours. And it’s always good to see him silhouetted in the dusk.

It’s how I know I’m home.

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#365daysofbiking Old tin buns

November 11th – Returning to Brownhills late with a companion we went looking for fast food. While we waited, a good chance to try and get a decent photo of Morris which always seems so difficult.

An interesting phenomena around this artwork is the way ladies tend to admire the statue’s bum. It’s very fetching, apparently.

Not a bad photo really, but still not totally happy with it… Maybe try again soon

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#365daysofbiking A miner infatuation


January 5th – Heading back up the High Street to get a takeaway, I passed the now well-lit Morris with the lights on the surrounding trees looking beautiful.

I will never tire of photographing this statue. Is is by turns, dramatic, beautiful, ridiculously out of place, preposterous and wonderful.

Fantastic by day, even better by night. Morris symbolises home and the town I love.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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April 29th – I’d been out for a ride late in the afternoon and returned when night had fallen. On a frankly uninspiring photographic day, I spotted Morris, the Brownhills Miner as I came back through town.

I never liked the mix of white and blue lights they chose to illuminate this remarkable sculpture with, but now some of them have burnt out, the lighting looks a lot better: less operating theatre harsh and more industrial darkness, as if Morris was being lit by the ghost light of the welds that created him.

Still love every single stainless steel segment of him (and there are hundreds – just look!)

September 22nd – Also coming out better than expected was Morris, the Brownhills Miner. I often have people grumbling I don’t feature him here often enough, but it’s hard to know what to do with him; Morris has been photographed so often and so well by others, my photos would jut be noise.

I’m very fond of Morris – as a technical achievement, he’s stunning and a wonderful demonstration of Finite Element boundary analysis as a method of solving complex shape resolution. But he’s also that rarity – a civic artwork with soul.

Morris has done very little for Brownhiills. He hasn’t ‘put is on the map’ – we never left it; he hasn’t created jobs or sparked a regeneration.

But what Morris has done is made lots of people smile, and wonder about the history he represents.

Which is worth an awful lot in my book.

November 15th – It had been a long day, the energy was low, and I didn’t have much time. I spun up the High Street at teatime and rode the backstreets for a bit. Returning, I looked at something thats so familiar, I rarely pay it much attention: Morris, the Brownhills Miner. Much as I feel uncomfortable with the extravagance in a faltering town, I do love him. John McKenna’s work in drafting all those fragments, then welding them together in a finite-element model like this is stunning, and always has been. So much better than the laser cut by numbers tat in Walsall Wood, this took a really skilled artist a huge amount of time to design, facilitate and build. I just wish the blue lights didn’t make it look so cheap.

Morris is such an obvious and cliched subject, I’ve only rarely featured him here, but it’s worth it, once in a while, just to share him. The politics and cost aside, it’s a terrific thing.