The crowd at the unveiling of the Snout & About pigs at the Orchard Shopping Centre this week gave a warm round of applause to both porkers and even an audible and dare we say excited gasp when Michael Fairfax pulled the cover from the Polden Pig. It’s safe to say that this latter is the most striking re-interpretation of the two surviving pig benches that used to stand in the shopping centre.
A reporter and photographer from the Somerset County Gazette were there, and later that day posted a video of the unveiling online. From the comments that the public have added, it’s clear that after 4 or more years off the radar, the Snout & About pigs have certainly got the town talking again.
Many of the online posts, but not all, reveal that some people are not too keen on the new look of the Snout & About pigs. Although we’re not putting the Snout & About pigs in the same bracket as Damien Hirst’s sheep in formaldehysde or Tracey Emin’s unmade bed this is to be expected with any new piece of art, especially one made expressly for public consumption, but everything’s relative.
It’s worth addressing a couple of points which were raised in online posts.
The Snout & About project is self-funding and cost neutral. The costs of transporting the pigs from venue to venue and the free guide booklet that gives the history of the pigs, the places where they can be seen and information about the artists, has all been covered by the supporters of the project. The artists who transformed the pigs gave their time and materials for free. And of course wherever they are on show will be free to enter. The free guide can be obtained from The Brewhouse and you can follow the pigs adventures around Taunton at www.facebook.com/
As for the issue of health and safety, the pigs will always be cordoned off as going back to their origins they had, after years of being exposed to the elements, become rotten and unsafe to sit on anyway and are not intended to be sat on now.
This is not to deny the many lovely memories that people have of the pigs as they used to be, but the truth is that without Snout & About they would have never returned to Taunton. The most striking pig, called the Polden Pig, now has a new and fascinating story that inspired it’s new look. This was the one of the two surviving pigs that was most severely rotted but is now a bold and brave war pig, as used by the Romans against their enemies to make them flee in panic. You can read all about this bit of real life history in the book that artist Michael Fairfax has written and beautifully illustrated about the Polden Pig, from which he will be reading in Waterstone’s at 11am on Saturday 6 April. You can preview and order the book online here http://www.blurb.co.uk/books/
Pigsaw, created by Natalie Parsley, is in a better state than when it came out of storage, having been dismantled, repaired, decorated and given several coats of fresh protective lacquer. The most difficult part of the refurbishment was removing all the chewing gum that had become welded to the pig over the years.
So discussion, and a little controversy, has been stirred, but context is everything in the week that Benedict XVI became the first Pope in 600 years to resign and North Korea successfully exploded its third atomic bomb which caused an earthquake in South Korea.
We hope you’ll visit the pigs on their Snout & About tour, as we can assure you that they are perfectly safe and contain no horse whatsoever.