A number of Southend residents and business owners have reacted angrily to plans for a LIVING FIRE art installation on Southend Pier. The controversial idea has been created by ShinyShiny Creative, a collective of some of the finest artistic talents in the town, and it involves creating a gas-powered controlled ‘inferno’ that will burn around the clock for six months at the pier head that sits 1.3 miles from the shore.
According to many people that have spoken to Southend News Network, the idea is ‘tasteless’ given that the pier has suffered from a number of serious and devastating fires in its history, including the infamous bowling alley blaze in 1995 – however the project’s creative mastermind has told our Chief Reporter that sometimes the whole purpose of art is ‘to create an impression that sits perfectly between insulting and upsetting.’
ShinyShiny Creative artistic direct Vizzo Moozak said: ‘Once again, we have approached a vibrant and exciting commission with a revolutionary idea, and all that members of the public want to do is knock it and sling unbelievable amounts of negativity.’
‘We are aware that there have been some very sad fires on Southend Pier over the years, and this is why we want to create this artwork and let everyone know about it. Too many people in Southend just repress the horrible memories and get on with their lives – for some it’s like it never happened and this is something that needs to change.’
We asked Mr Moozak how the exhibit could be installed safely, given the fact that the pier is made of wood, and wood is something that tends to catch fire very easily.
He said: ‘The installation will be 25ft by 25ft in size, and essentially it will include four industrial-size propane tanks that can be changed at regular intervals – a network of eclectically-arranged pipes will throw flames of various lengths off at different directions.’
‘Everything will sit on top of a 6-inch Teflon base to ensure that the pier decking doesn’t get too hot and burn. Also, an automatic pumping system will be put in place to ensure that the flames can be extinguished in the event of an emergency, as long as the tide is in.’
Southend Borough Council’s Head of Arts and Arting Marion Sprout told Southend News Network that the whole purpose of art is sometimes to challenge, disgust and insult in equal measure.
She added: ‘Where would we be if all artistic projects just portrayed nice fluffy subjects? This ‘inferno’ will be visible for miles around, and maybe even from space on a cloud-free evening! How amazing would it be for someone on the International Space Station to look down on Earth and say ‘Whoa! Too much Southend, too much.’