Waterford is having an indentity crisis. Of course, this may just be my opinion as viewed from the vantage point of Dublin, but it does seem that it’s not a city entirely at ease with its image. Take the poster to the left here. “Waterford – Summer City”, it states, colourfully. What great Waterford landmark have they chosen to illustrate this objective? A cartoon blue sky with fluffy clouds. As an enticing tourist-magnet, it’s quite possibly the worst, most ineffective poster I have ever seen. Another Waterford-centric pamphlet I saw yesterday features a photo of a giant hot air balloon, a tree top and a sea of raised hands, apparently praising this glorious vision. Again, not a Waterford landmark in sight. In fact, not a sight of anything that resembles the ground, giving anyone the impression that the best thing about Waterford is the skyward escape out of it.
All this could perhaps be partially explained by the lead story in this week’s Waterford News & Star. It’s the tale of a proposed six-metre stainless steel sculpture of a bar stool and shelf of bottles which has been planned for the Grattan Quay area of the city. This has, you can quite imagine, left members of the City Council fuming, and of the opinion that such a sculpture “would send out a clear message that a culture of drinking was being promoted”.
“I hate it – over my dead body,” declared Cllr. Mary Roche, who apparently wasn’t suggesting it should be used as her tomb. Others suggested it would attract grafitti and vandalism – so, like every other public building, then.
To me, it simply suggests that the artist has, like a few others in the city, been spending a lot of time on the floor staring up. For him, that means at a bar stool and shelf of drink; for those trying to ignore issues of drink and disorder to sell Waterford to the rest of us, that means staring up at the sky for some divine inspiration.