Richard Warren

20thc British art and poetry (mainly), plus bits of my own – "Clearly I tap to you clearly along the plumbing of the world" (W S Graham)

Artificial melancholy in Sutton Coldfield

My wife says it’s a shame that I’m reduced to blogging about the contents of garden centres (see last post), and she probably has a point. But while I’m still in the mood, here’s a quick tour around select bits of Hall’s of Sutton Coldfield, a surprisingly off kilter venue nestling innocently just outside Birmingham, whose displays of massed cultural fossils achieve fresh and unerring incongruity overload, reuniting Nature with ruin and artificial melancholy in a tradition extending back to the eighteenth century. In connection with which, I was delighted to find above the toilet doors a print of Millais’s Cherry Ripe, a kitsch icon and descendant of Joshua Reynolds’s Penelope Boothby as already discussed in this post. Other highlights include a “Japanese Water Garden” (with both piped water and piped pseudo-oriental music), a vast stock of worryingly large plastic animals and a gargantuan dinosaur on a pallet on the roof. (Oh yes, and look carefully and you’ll see that the tree man, behind the frog and duck fountains, houses a surveillance camera.)

A previous foray here into contemporary kitsch, my post on the Trafford Centre in Manchester, left one commenter feeling “a bit queasy”. This is all very much miniaturised in comparison with that postmodern Xanadu, but I hope these images may have just a little of the same effect. (Click thumbnails for slides and click below slides for mega enlargements. )

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2 responses to “Artificial melancholy in Sutton Coldfield

  1. John Sims July 12, 2016 at 11:05 am

    When you’re in London you might enjoy Wheeler’s Garden Centre tucked away at the side of Turnham Green Station – not huge, but a surprise. Regards, John Sims >

  2. stue1967 July 13, 2016 at 11:17 am

    An adult and child artificial orangutan – what every home needs

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