Welcome to our tour of the Great Promenade Show as of November 2020. In this article we will look to show you the installations (well, what’s left of them) along the Great Promenade Show and give you some brief views on them and a little history. We also have a VLOG covering this over on our YouTube channel, if you get chance, please take a look and like / subscribe to help us on our YouTube journey.
The word ‘great’ is often used too liberally…. And in this case, that’s certainly true, to say the art installations are ‘tired’ is an underestimation, they have lacked maintenance for some years now and no where near their former glory….. perhaps one day we’ll see them restored or new ones put in their place? ….we can but hope.
There were originally 10 art installations along the south promenade running from Starr Gate (where the trams start for those who don’t know the area) and continue all the way up to the Sandcastle water park however, due to vanadlism, there are now only 9 and if we’re honest, given the various states of disrepair, we’d also suggest not all can still be classed as art.
It doesn’t matter in which order you view the installations, there is no specific story behind them or riddle to solve, so go from north to south or south to north, whatever suits however, in our case, we begin our journey from the south, with the installation we don’t feel counts anymore ‘The sound of the wind looks like this’.
1. The sound of the wind looks like this.
‘The sound of the wind looks like this’ would originally have been quite an impressive display with flashing lights indicating the speed and direction of the wind; the speed of the lights spinning around the circle of light posts indicating the speed of the wind, the colour of the light indicating the direction…… we can only assume the installation couldn’t cope with some of the gusts and changes of direction we sometimes get on the Fylde Coast so just gave up the ghost……… well, either that or the council didn’t bother spending any money on maintenance for years, your guess is probably better than ours!
2. The Frankenstein Project.
Heading north along the promenade from ‘The sound of the wind looks like this’ you reach the next installation, which whilst could do with a coat of paint, still maintains its arty integrity. ‘The Frankenstein Project’ by Tony Stallard is an installation inspired by the Victorian Blackpool ‘Freak shows’ and is intended to warn of sinister outcomes when tampering with nature. Now, we’ll be honest, from what looks like a tank you might find in your loft, we can’t see the link but we will confess to not being the most artsy family ever put on the planet.
3. Water Wings.
Next up is the one which always makes us want to watch jaws….. not sure why, ‘Water Wings’. To be honest, we actually quite like this one, it’s a bit of an optical illusion, look at it in one direction and it makes no sense what so ever, move a little further round and the picture becomes all clear, if only they knew how viral that sort of stuff goes on the Internet nowadays back then!!
3. Glam Rocks.
Moving along has to be one of the least inspiring installations of the lot currently, ‘Glam Rocks’ originally did look excellent at night but now just looks like three round lumps of concrete painted white ……. which to be fair, is actually what they are. What we particularly don’t like about them is the fact they boast that the rocks are ‘replicas of pebbles found on Blackpool beach’….. honestly, there are millions of pebbles on Blackpool beach, you could make the ‘Glam Rocks’ any size and if you looked hard enough, you’d find some the right size, so if hours of measuring went into making sure they were scale replicas, it would be just a mental waste of money.
4. They shoot horses don’t they?
So…. a pretty uninspiring start I guess you could say however, the glory days are behind them on the installations we’ve visited so far but with the next, things are suddenly about to get a LOT better (all relative of course). ‘They Shoot Horses Don’t they?’ Is the pride of the Great Promenade Show, the world’s biggest disco ball hosts more than 15,000 mirrored tiles. Whats that? Funny name for a mirror ball you say… well, its named after the 1939 film about the dance marathon of the American depression….. what that has to do with Blackpool is anyones guess, but it does look good! (Though to add, it did use to look much better when it actually revolved and had lights on it a night….. alas…. No more).
Next up an installation called ‘Desire’ by Chris Knight. This particular installation is inspired by Blackpool ‘fetish’ scene and is intended to represent the ‘seductive power of danger’ and whilst looks like it could do with a good sandblast and a coat of ‘Hammerite’, was actually installed with the intention of rusting…….. so we’re told anyway.
6. Swivelling wind shelters.
Further north, we next a couple of installations which are as practical as they are ‘arty’, the ‘swivelling wind shelters’ (not much effort went into naming these!!), are a couple of ‘whale tail’ shaped shelters which should swivel round in the wind however, truth be told, far from swivelling, they now really just rock a bit in situ but, still form an attractive addition to the promenade, standing at eight metres tall!
7. Life is a Circus.
For the next display, you’ll have to use your imagination a bit if you visit, ‘Life is a circus’ by Sit Peter Blake was the subject of vandalism a good few years back (not quite sure when from memory – anyone remind us?) and as such, the installation was removed and all that’s left now are a couple of pillars. What you would have seen once would be two statues, each with 4 people standing on top of each other, all balanced on a horse. These particular pieces were designed to be a tribute to the entertainment industry and the important role it plays in Blackpool.
8. ….another swivelling wind shelter.
9. High tide organ.
Last but by now means least is the ‘High Tide Organ’ which does what it says on the tin…. when it’s high tide, the organ plays random notes and makes some pretty eerie sounds. Described as a ‘musical manifestation of the sea’, this piece is definitely worth look….. just make sure you go when it’s high tide 🙂
That brings us to the end of our tour of the Great Promenade Show, I think in summary, a lot of the installations are far past their best and in dire need of replacement or maintenance however, the show is free and it does certainly add some interest to a walk along the prom.
Have you walked the Great Promenade show? What did you think? Whats your favourite? walk in Blackpool?