"Water is patient, Adelaide. Water just waits. Wears down the cliff tops, the mountains. The whole of the world. Water always wins."Art For various reasons, I've walked near Betty Woodman's Liverpool Fountain on numerous occasions over the past few months since the Biennial opened but wanting to keep to the spirit of this project as much as possible made a point of either keeping my eyes front and centre or else selecting a completely different route in order to avoid it. As we've discovered before, the best way to approach contemporary art is with a fresh eye in most situations and so why would I want to spoil myself?
-- The Doctor, "The Waters of Mars"
Thankfully, it was well worth the wait. A monumental sculpture, part of the Ancient Greece episode, it places shapes from sources that include, according to the Biennial literature, "Greek and Etruscan sculpture, Minoan and Egyptian art, Italian Baroque architecture and the paintings of Bonnard, Picasso and Matisse." Those influences are absolutely clear in the way the shapes have been fashioned and chosen colours, asymmetrical vases and statues in jarring colours.
The effect feels pleasingly dated, like a commission for the entrance hall of an office building or "modern hotel" from the 70s and 80s, not looking out of place, for example, in the old Senate House at Liverpool University or a Vegas money trap. This isn't a criticism, one of my happiest days was visiting Le Defense in Paris and seeing work just like this at La Grande Arch and its surround commercial properties.
The shapes are augmented by copper piping pour water into a trough before, which was very welcome on the warm day I visited. I stood for minutes with my hands cupped underneath letting the water flow into the space before periodically opening my fingers and letting the liquid fall through. I did consider through it into my face but decided I didn't want to get my t-shirt wet. Bedraggled has never been a good look.