Animal Art in Reading

Continuing with the theme of Reading: An Open Gallery, I wanted today to look at representations of animals in Reading. Most intriguing was this sign, hanging beside the Rising Sun Arts Centre on Silverstreet, Reading.

Beware of the dog, paint, wood, site-specific installation, Silverstreet, Reading, Artist Unknown.

The handmade qualities of the sign coupled with the minimalist treatment of The Dog illustration make this an intriguing work. But the work takes on a new twist when we meet The Dog of which we must beware, sitting beneath the sign with one ear inside out and a much-chewed, green tennis ball. He stands beneath the sign, imploring passersby with his eyes to toss the ball for him (just the once… just over there would be great) and yet he is also a beast – if we are to understand the sign – to fear. The juxtaposition of doggy threat and doggy play together in this one work, signifies – at least to me – some of the contradictions inherent in canine/human relations.

Another site-specific work is The Cow Painting that covers a wall on Regent Court, just near to the Cattle Market building where the Farmer’s Market is also held. Driving around the Ring Road, it is possible to always see an enticing glimpse of green and bovine joy peeking from between the side-streets, but to truly appreciate the genius of The Cow Mural, one has to walk up to it.

The Cow Mural, paint, site-specific work, Regent Court off Great Knolly Street, Artist Unknown.

This mural with the tags on the cows ears and its largesse, emphasises the function of the area and creates an uneasy tension between the beauty of the cattle depicted, and their intended destination as dinner. Staring out from the wall in a disarming gaze, the presence of The Cow Painting is unsettlingly beautiful and distracting. Abattoir Road runs parrallel to Great Knolly Street and when we went to visit The Cow Painting, there was a Horse auction taking place in the old Cattle Market. The painting somehow emphasises these adjacent functions and histories…

I am not a vegetarian but it is good to think about where meat comes from, and to find things in Reading that allow us to contemplate our relationship to beasts and creatures.

Update on yesterday: Unfortunately, The Lost Shoes installation appears to have been dismantled and can no longer be seen on Swainstone Road.

4 Responses to Animal Art in Reading

  1. Anna says:

    I love the idea of Reading (or anywhere similar) as art installation. Really funny, and yet thought-provoking and beautiful too.

  2. Cinders says:

    Hi felix,
    Your Open air art made me think of all the things that might be around my own town of Bury and around Manchester. I think we take these things for granted and dont even notice them. I love the beware of the dog sign. he looks so benign that dog!

  3. Lara says:

    I love the idea of bovine joy!

  4. Pingback: The Domestic Soundscape » Blog Archive » Love Assignment #4: Find beauty in the city

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