Today (18 May) marks the unveiling of the fourth Neon Love sign in Wakefield. A romantic vision by two Wakefield-born artists, Victoria Lucas and Richard William Wheater, 12 Months of Neon Love is a large-scale public artwork that sits on the roof of an industrial building that houses the Neon Workshops.
Visible only from the train, and to a few that know when to look up, the work sits aloft of the city centre’s roofs, proclaiming the lyrics of love songs to weary travellers.
At the end of each month the work is auctioned off on EBay creating a self-funding cycle that is admirable and risky in these times of arts funding cuts and rising unemployment.
The work has hit a snag, however. Despite the sentiments of love being more than adequately requited by the press, bloggers and train passengers, it seems Wakefield council are less starry eyed about it.
They have turned down the artists’ advertising consent application. Without permission the project will have to cease after only four months of spreading the love bug. It is planned to run for a full 12 months, completing on Valentines Day 2012.
It seems a reactionary gesture on the part of a council who will be celebrating the opening of The Hepworth Wakefield this weekend.
The Council’s commitment to this landmark gallery, despite the government’s massive budget cuts to local authorities, is a beacon at a time when arts and leisure provision is being swept away from our towns like unwanted rubbish.
But the gallery will be a hollow shell if the grassroots art and culture in Wakefield is not nurtured and supported. The council needs to understand that a holistic approach is needed and sometimes that means being a little bit experimental. Or just turning a blind eye to some of the red tape from time to time.
Victoria and Richard are appealing the decision and are collecting signatures and messages of support on their petition. They have until the 26 May to convince Wakefield council that culture-led regeneration does not just exist in 5000sq feet purpose built gallery spaces. Love can blossom anywhere and the people of Wakefield might just find a love for art glowing from a rooftop.
You can sign Victoria and Richard’s petition here: