PATRICK CANNON – EXHIBITOR OXFORD ART FAIR 2013
To some, they are a monstrous blot on the landscape. To others, they are majestic symbols of a dying industrial age. With the cooling towers of Didcot power station preparing to be demolished, ive tried to capture both sides of the passionate argument for and against Didcots’ Power Stations in a series of oil Paintings Didcots’ six concrete towers have dominated south Oxfordshire since first contructed in 1970. They were designed by the prominent 20th-century architect Sir Frederick Gibberd, who created the town of Harlow and Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral, and the sculptor Henry Moore is thought to have had a say in their layout. Being arguably Henry Moore’s largest sculpture, it has inspired many poets and artists with high-profile fans of the towers include the author Philip Pullman and comedy writer John Lloyd. Decommissioned in March 2013, Didcot A was one of only 14 coal-fired stations in the UK. In 2008, it opted out of an EU directive on carbon emissions, which meant it had to close after 20,000 hours of generation from that moment. That point was reached much earlier than the 2015 date previously expected, at which point it will be unplugged from the national grid and demolished. In 2003, readers of Country Life voted Didcot Britain’s third worst eyesore, But the same magazine suggested in 2007 that Moore might have been involved in the design, when the architectural historian Howard Colvin was quoted saying: “I remember we [the Fine Art Commission] were shown scale models of the cooling towers for Didcot power station and Henry Moore spent ages moving them around to create a good composition. I saw them the other day from the train and think he did rather a good job.” Philip Pullman, who lives nearby, agrees. “I think it’s a splendid-looking place and I’d be sorry to see it go. It’s one of those things that looks horrible when it’s first put up, but it’s actually rather marvellous.” I was born and raised in Milton village and i could see cooling towers in Didcot from my garden. Ive seen it in many different seasons, weathers and light. They’ve always made me feel at home, a kind of ‘gentle giant’ always looking over my shoulder. Its bought much work to the area and helped prosper lives for many people, ones including my fathers family. The facts are that Power stations like Didcot emit the same CO2 per day as the 20 least polluting countries combined many local residents see through the smoke screen the ‘big friendly giants’ continually puffed out and could only see them as a unhealthy eyesore on the Thames valley landscape. So to bring the two side of the argument to the canvas ive tried to capture the beauty of the surrounding landscape in Oxfordshire, the sculptural beauty of the 6 towers alongside the negative polluting impact that they have on our surrounding environment.