Friday, 31 October 2014
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Comedy Carpet damaged by Blackpool Council

The Comedy Carpet designed by Gordon Young and Why Not Associates has been damaged in action taken by Blackpool Council over what it says are health and safety issues.

Damage to the Comedy Carpet

Damage to the Comedy Carpet

The £2.6m public art work which adorns Blackpool’s sea front is a celebration of the catchphrases and jokes of over 1000 comedians.

An area approaching 50m2 has been broken up including the dedication stone which marked the unveiling of the installation in October last year.

Young says he had not been consulted over the removal of the slabs on Friday, but says he had offered to reconfigure them before they were set in place.

Damage to the Comedy Carpet

Damage to the Comedy Carpet

‘Last summer when the issue of proximity of the tram tracks was raised we offered Blackpool a number of options to help address concerns, all of which could have been done easily before we finished installing the artwork.

‘But the Council informed me that I should go ahead with the artwork as conceived,’ he says.

Young adds, ‘If the [removal] job had been done properly, and dare I say professionally, there is absolutely no reason why they should have been damaged.’

Gordon Young. Photo by Angela Catlin

Gordon Young. Photo by Angela Catlin

Alan Cavill, assistant chief of regeneration tourism and culture for Blackpool Council, says he was on site with Young in July 2011 having asked ‘The Comedy Carpet Company to carry out a risk assessment.’

Cavill says that some of the slabs abut the tram tracks and ‘we all thought it was not acceptable.’

According to Cavill, action needed to be taken ahead of the reopening of the tram system in April - which was shut at the time of laying the artwork.

He says that a series of options were raised with the Comedy Carpet Company, including placing a crane on the artwork which would be ‘too brittle’ or on the road, which would be ‘cost prohibitive.’

First public view. Photo by Angela Catlin

First public view. Photo by Angela Catlin

The Council also discussed slowing trams down at its intersection with the work, but the rail operator refused according to Cavill.

‘In the end there were no workable or affordable solutions,’ Cavill says.

The Comedy Carpet has featured in the shortlist for the Design Museum’s Design of The Year and next week Young and Why Not Associates founder Andy Altmann will collect a Tokyo Grand Prix Design Award for the work.

Readers' comments (5)

  • This is what happens when you give bin men hammers!

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  • I think its a total shame that a suitable solution could be found to minimise damaged being caused to the carpet.

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  • Good design, typography and overall, effort, just isn't appreciated by knuckle dragging neanderthals! There's only one thing to do... re-lay it in Weston Super Mare!

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  • Such a shame and a waste of money, why go to the trouble of creating such a brilliant installation if the council is going to make ridiculous duff decisions. Wish i'd known about this sooner as it would have given me a good reason to visit Blackpool

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  • Criminal damage and vandalism by men in hi vis tabards and suddenly it's OK. Boycott the trams make Cavill pay anyway.

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