Three hundred and forty three


Soon to be Removed (Yellow)

2012 by Piers Bourke
Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery

Soon to be Removed states perhaps what many are afraid of, that the British icons we recognise and love are disappearing before our eyes. Though many telephone boxes remain in central London, where tourists come to pose, they are rarely to be seen on the suburban backstreet corners where they once stood as beacons of communication. Loaded with memories for many generations – if walls had ears – the poignancy of these icons will be acute for those that used them, the generation of those that didn’t growing fast. Bourke’s bright paintings (there is also Soon to be Removed Purple, Blue etc) celebrate these memories, allowing the metal encasements to glow with the emotions that took place inside. Colouring in our nostalgia, Bourke embellishes the playfulness we now associate with such long-standing structures. The romance of state-funded design is now rare, and bright red – or happily green in Ireland – post or telephone boxes are cheerful on grey pavements. The energy behind these Soon to be Removed structures is highlighted with Bourke’s coiled and waiting-to-spring inky lines; bristling with life, they appear as the very unspoken scripture of what they adorn. Bright and small squares of colour are then pasted to the yellow walls, moving as if to music, glorifying the buzz that surrounds the telephone box. Just through the dirty glass is reality – the grimy telephone, the call-girl’s card; though far from distracting from Bourke’s glorification they contribute to it. Bourke reminds us that reality is quirky and, though these things may be disappearing, art has the ability to set in stone.


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