Artist defends new installation at Berwick Barracks branded 'a cheap neon light carbuncle'

A striking new contemporary art installation at Berwick Barracks has attracted mixed reviews.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 4:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 4:59 pm

Berwick Visual Arts, in partnership with English Heritage, commissioned artist Tim Etchells to create a large scale temporary neon work entitled Wait Here (Double Line).

It is visible above the gatehouse entrance of the town’s former military barracks and the full text will read ‘Wait Here I Have Gone to Get Help’.

While it has attracted some support on social media, former King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB) officer Ed Swales is among those to have criticised it.

The art installation at Berwick Barracks. Picture: Colin Davison Photography

The barracks is the regimental headquarters of the KOSB and the art installation was put up on its 332nd anniversary.

"Those gates are basically our memorial to our fallen,” he said. “To put a cheap burger stall neon light carbuncle above our war memorial leaves me and thousands of unconsulted present day Borderers nothing short of speechless.

"We have not been asked, we do not find it appropriate nor respectful to our fine regimental legacy and we would respectfully and politely ask that this cheap sign be removed.”

Running until April 30, the installation marks 300 years since the opening of the barracks and continues a long history of contemporary art on the site.

The art installation viewed from Berwick Parish Church. Picture: Colin Davison Photography

Tim said: “It’s always interesting to make work especially for a particular site. It’s a process that involves practical and quite pragmatic consideration of the location in terms of possible places to install a work as well as providing the chance to consider the different stories and ideas that are circulating in a place.

"In the case of the barracks in Berwick I was thinking about their origin as part of a defensive outpost, and the way they resonate with narratives of danger, attack and defence.

"I wanted something that would resonate strongly with the situation and the phrase used in Wait Here seemed to open lots of possible interpretations, serious and comical at the same time.”

James Lowther of Berwick Visual Art said: “In these challenging times it is great to able to take visual art out of the gallery and into such an important building for Berwick as the barracks, enabling the work to be seen by a much wider audience and creating new narratives around the heritage of the building itself.”

The art installation is put in place. Picture: Colin Davison Photography

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