'UNREQUITED' ~ Edinburgh

Continued from here; In an exploration of the representation of sorrow in statues in Berlin and the relevance to The Pansy Project I have had a realisation that the sorrow I seek to explore is my own: Twenty years ago I sat drawing the Ross Fountain in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh (Above). I drew it over a period of days with the sole intention of ‘bumping into’ a nearby man who worked at the refreshment hut in the gardens. I still have the drawings which I had wanted to include in a portfolio that I had intended to use to get into Edinburgh Art College. I never ‘bumped into’ the man I had a crush on and I never applied to Edinburgh Art College. On returning to Edinburgh last year I passed the fountain and recalled the slightly sad story and the lonely desperation of myself as a younger man.

(Above one of the drawings of the Ross Fountain; 1987)

A new artwork arose from this memory; I proposed to donate a bench that would be dedicated to the memory and place in which I had sat twenty years earlier a plaque attached to the bench would explain the story behind the location. I sought permission to donate or temporarily place a bench in the park which I gained, though as yet I have been unable to find the right context for this work, as I wanted to exhibit the original drawings with a photograph of the bench.

(below the bench I sat on to draw the above in 1987)


In regarding the pictured sculpture in Berlin within the context of The Pansy Project I was reminded again of this earlier work. As I gazed at the pictured fountain it occurred to me that I was remembering a recent failed ‘relationship’ with a Berliner and as a result felt that I was reinterpreting the sculpture to fit my own recent experience. In order to explore this further I intend to sketch the fountain with the aim of claiming its meaning as my own; my research continues:


The 'Geldzählerbrunnen' fountain was designed by Ernst Wenk in 1912 it was left for some time without water and has only in recent years been repaired to its current state. The actual meaning of the 'Geldzählerbrunnen' is 'Teller Fountain' which depicts the figure counting or distributing money, not as my initail impression suggested bowing his head in sorrow. According to some futher research on the 'Berlin Street' web-blog. An anecdote by Erwin Geschonneck reveals some detail about the fountain; "In 1914....Sometimes I met my grandmother at the Pappelplatz at the beautiful Teller Fountain, where the unemployed people always sat. Of the figure they said: “It counts whether the unemployment benefit was underpaid again”. My grandmother often rested there. She bought bread for me and the margarine on it was usually 'ranzig', but I was always very hungry, and it was the war."


In this context the drawing process is an attempt to meditate on the loss I have experienced and to capture the perceived representation of loss the 'Geldzählerbrunnen' represents though as explained above it does not represent loss. This misinterpretation acts as a metaphor for the misguided or unwanted attention I bestow on the unwilling. This is acknowledged in my re-titling of the fountain as ‘Unerwidert’ (unrequited in German) which reclaims and represents the reading of the fountain. In my case this reclaiming of the fountain's meaning has the effect of ‘queering’ the fountain and the space in which it sits.

The ultimate reading of the work is an exploration of lost or unrequited love; in not drawing the water I refuse to ackowledge the passing of time. I attempt to remain close to the subject of my desire at least in time. In Berlin I used a camera to video the fountain. In recording the spouting water I acknowledge that time does pass despite my resistance to it, when it comes to present the work I intend to project the video; the projection will be on a small scale to reflect the intimate nature of the subject matter.

I’m also interested in the bench as a symbol of absence and presence at the location. The photograph of the bench represents a place in which one sits or waits. The Edinburgh bench which was intended to be re-named or re-dedicated is a component of the work. In discussing parks, fountains and benches I ask the audience to re-contextualise these democratic spaces from a ‘queer’ perspective.

In describing the work in detail on this blog the work itself is only partially made; it is itself unfulfilled or un-realised. As someone who reads this text you then are given the ingredients to imagine the work and a future in which it exists, as a result you unwittingly participate in imagining; so your full experience of the work is unrequited.