Blackpool floats the idea of a conceptual (but seaworthy) B&B

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Blackpool, best known as the seaside resort of illuminations and Kiss Me Quick hats, is to make its first foray into the world of conceptual art - with a floating Bed and Breakfast on the cards.

The north-western holiday town is planning to extend its famous three-mile "Golden Mile" with a plinth for contemporary art stretching for more than a mile along the newly installed South Shore sea defences.

Some 27 artists, including Peter Blake and Andrew Logan, have submitted proposals for works to go on display for the 11 million tourists the town welcomes annually.

One of the ideas currently favoured by Blackpool's council is "B, B and B (Beach, Bed and Breakfast)", a floating mock-up of the resort's most popular form of accommodation, by Gavin Weston.

Peter Blake is working on a "collage sculpture" of a man, woman and child, while Michael Trainor and two colleagues are submitting a proposal for a Blackpool-esque 20ft mirror ball.

The final decision will be made after an exhibition at Blackpool's publicly funded Grundy Gallery on June 2.

Mr Trainor, who is organising the exhibition, said they wanted public feedback as some of the art is quite unusual. "In fact any public art in Blackpool is quite unusual," said Mr Trainor.

"So far they really like the floating B and B. It would have to be taken in seasonally, whereas everything else would be out there all the time. But they're used to changing the illuminations with the seasons so that won't be a problem."

Mr Trainor said the resort, one of Europe's most popular tourist attractions, was an exciting place for important outdoor artworks. "It stands contrary to what most people think of Blackpool," he said. "Blackpool themselves want to do it because they're a town of endless innovation - even bigger and better rides, every freak show and attraction."

Cultural snobs take note: it might not have much to rival Tate Modern, but the legacy of the illuminations and seaside attractions is that Blackpool's council is apparently one of the most open minded and innovative in the country.

"The council are not small minded, they're the opposite. They don't know what they want and don't know anything about art, but they want to do something," said Mr Trainor.

Despite the unconventional nature of exhibits, he did not foresee any difficulty in obtaining planning permission.

"It's probably the easiest place in the world, because of its 30ft pirates, and other attractions - they're like sculptures in their own right," Mr Trainor said. "Things you would never get away with in London and Manchester are part and parcel of what they do in Blackpool."

Lynn Fade, the council's arts officer, said the idea had come about partly because the sea defences had denied many local hoteliers their ground-floor sea views and they wanted something to draw crowds along from the Pleasure Beach.

"It also gets people interested in the idea of modern art. I think people don't realise how exciting it can be. There is a tendency with Blackpool to think, 'It's not for us, we've got all these other things going on'," Ms Fade said.

The exhibition will be funded by the council and thegovernment-backed Blackpool Challenge Partnership, with contributions from local hoteliers. After the artworks are chosen, work to create andinstall them will begin almost immediately, with at least three to be in place by the end of the year.