It’s Sacrilege, but is Stonehenge really the inspiration…?

29 Jun

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One of the greatest mysteries of the prehistoric world is why Stonehenge was built. But the thinking behind a life-sized inflatable version of the world-famous monument is easier to ascertain – and it might have more to do with nearby Avebury than its younger but better-known cousin.

This morning Festival Chronicle was lucky enough to catch up with Jeremy Deller, the Turner Prize-winning artist behind art-installation-cum-bouncy-castle Sacrilege.

I first came across the work of conceptual artist Deller in 1997, when he embarked on Acid Brass, a musical collaboration with the Williams Fairey Brass Band from Stockport who threw away their Sousa standards in favour of dance music tracks like What Time Is Love by KLF and Voodoo Ray by A Guy Called Gerald. You’ll find them on YouTube.

He is perhaps best known for his 2001 work Battle of Orgreave a re-enactment of the actual Battle of Orgreave which occurred during the UK miners’ strike in 1984. It was documented by the filmmaker Mike Figgis.

And this morning he was in my hometown of Marlborough with Sacrilege, a work created for the Glasgow Festival of Art which will be visiting various locations in London for Olympics month, after a quick tour of provincial towns in the UK.

Sacrilege is free, and that’s really important to me

Now despite the geographical connection, Marlborough is the only Wiltshire stop of the tour – and thus the closest anyone will get to see the installation to the 5,000 year old monument on which it was based. That said, Deller told this Festival Chronicler he couldn’t remember where he was when he got the idea of building an inflatable replica of Stonehenge, but he wasn’t at the monument.

“I haven’t been to Stonehenge in years,” he admitted. “I like Stonehenge and sites like it around Britain, but I’ve been to Avebury a lot more than I’ve been to Stonehenge because it’s accessible and it’s a very interesting place to be.

“Stonehenge is not as accessible as it has been in the past. Like Avebury, Sacrilege is free, and that’s really important to me.”

Marlborough is the fifth stop in the tour, part of the London 2012 festivities. Deller won’t be at every one, but wanted to see his creation in Marlborough “because the area is so special to me.”

So we were honoured to have a visit from the artist? “Yeah, very honoured” he grinned. And the reason for the existence of Sacrilege? “I thought it would be an interesting thing – to see if it could actually be done. And it’s fun. Everywhere it goes it gets a fantastic reaction.”

It certainly went down well in Marlborough.

First in the queue was Caroline Allsopp with daughters Molly (2) and Winnie (10 months).

“We’ve just come for a bounce,”said Caroline. “Molly loves bouncy castles. I think it’s brilliant; it should stay up here!”

Beaten to the honour of the first bounce were Marlborough’s mayor, Edwina Fogg, and her consort Nick. They arrived at 9.15am to initiate Sacrilege, but drizzling rain and fresh winds put pay to their plans.

“We’ll be back for a bounce later,” promised the mayor, who had other engagements to attend. And true to their word, they were.

The first couple finally got a bounce at 11am. “Fabulous. I’m coming back for another go this afternoon,” said the mayor after performing one of her less dignified mayoral duties.

If you’d like to see (and bounce on) Sacrilege for yourself, here are the tour dates:

Saturday 7 July

Flag Fen, Peterborough

Wednesday 11 July

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Sunday 15 July

Saltwell Park, Gateshead

Friday 20 July

Milton Keynes

Saturday 21 – Sunday 22 July

Central Park, Greenwich, London

Wednesday 25 July

King Edward VII Park, Brent, London

Saturday 28 July

Paddington Recreation Ground, Westminster, London

Sunday 29 July

Cheam Park, Sutton, London

Tuesday 31 July

Ravenscourt Park, Hammersmith & Fulham, London

Wednesday 1 August

Hampstead Heath, Camden, London

Thursday 2 August

Clapham Common, Lambeth, London

Saturday 4 August

Burgess Park, Southwark, London

Sunday 5 August

Barra Hall Park, Hillingdon, London

Tuesday 7 August

East Ham Central Park, Newham, London

Thursday 9 August

Crystal Palace, Bromley, London

Friday 10 August

Alexandra Palace, Haringey, London

Saturday 11 August

Christchurch Green, Redbridge, London

Sunday 12 August

The Waterworks Nature Reserve, Lee Valley Park, Enfield, London

Saturday 18 August

College Green, Bristol

Sunday 26 August

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Sunday 9 September

Preston Guild, Preston

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