Letter: Value of a house set in concrete

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article 'A concrete idea well worth preserving' (3 November) urging the preservation of Rachel Whiteread's House was perceptive, for it has taken very few days for a consensus of informed opinion to emerge that House is perhaps the most impressive work of public art to appear in this country for many years.

I spent two hours or so on the site last Tuesday, and can testify to a steady stream of fascinated viewers, including a couple from Birmingham and a man who had travelled specially from Lyme Regis. Nor is support coming only from specialist visitors; about half the locals I spoke to were in favour of the work.

Bow council is to be commended for its imaginative support of Artangel; now that it finds itself with what is rapidly becoming a nationally famous monument on its hands, it should consider maintaining it in perpetuity. We tend to think of any public art not made of bronze or marble as essentially ephemeral, but the demolition of House after a mere four weeks would be a tragedy.

Perhaps not surprisingly, even those I spoke to who disliked the piece finished by commenting on the waste of money implicit in its destruction.

It would be nice if what began as a short-term project ended up, almost as it were accidentally, providing London with its first contemporary monument of lasting value.

Yours sincerely,


London, N4

3 November