Last April we published an article on the «negative space» house that British artist Dame Rachel Whiteread built in 1993 on Grove Road in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Thanks to Untitled Magazine we can now offer our readers the opportunity to see the three letters that Councillor Eric Flounders, then Chairman of both Bow and its Park Board, sent to The Independent newspaper arguing that the sculpture would be demolished, as it was eleven weeks after been erected
5 November 1993
Sir: Those poor, unsophisticated readers who share my view that Rachel Whiteread’s concoction House is utter rubbish can rest assured that, despite the pleas of the Independent, the monstrosity will not remain in place beyond the end of November.
The Bow Neighbourhood Committee decided on a date for removal even before work began, in order that we can continue laying out a new park. This half-constructed park is, naturally, littered with bricks, bulldozers and half demolished roads as work goes on.
Your dismissal of it as merely “scruffy” leads me to wonder what sort of standards you have in municipal parks as well as in art.
Chair, Parks Board
Bow Neighbourhood Council
17 November 1993
Sir: We will be brave, Mr Neilson (letter, 16 November), we will be brave! We will be brave enough to ignore the fusillade of froth from the arts lobby and remove the monstrosity as soon as the contract allows.
We have enough concrete in Bow already, and what we need is not more of it, but trees and grass. Those we will have. As far as I am concerned, any of the “thousands of towns and cities across Europe” that Mr Neilson feels would love to have House are welcome to it.
25 November 1993
Sir: I take strong exception to Nigel Glendinning’s suggestion (in his letter about Rachel Whiteread’s House, 20 November) that I have abused my local authority office. The award of the Turner Prize to Ms Whiteread does not change any of the facts.
In March, the Bow Neighbourhood Committee, of which I am chair, endorsed the decision of
the Bow Parks Board, of which I am also a chair, to allow the Artangel Trust to take over the property in Grove Road so that Rachel Whiteread’s “sculpture “could be created. At the same time it laid down a timetable by which the sculpture had to be removed and the site cleared. This timetable was adopted unanimously by the committee with no dissent of any kind, was accepted by Artangel, and was supported by the Neighbourhood’s officers.
What I have done publicly ever since is promote and defend that evidently sensible decision by my committee with which I entirely agree. If defending committee decisions is abusing my local authority office, then, on reflection, I have been doing it for years.
For the record, the agreement Artangel signed stipulates that the structure should be removed by 31st October and the site completely cleared by 30th November. They are already in default of that agreement, so it is hardly surprising if I am being resolute about the final date. Surely those like Mr Glendinning should not be whining about a local authority wishing to stick to a universally agreed contract, but should be grateful that this piece of experimental nonsense which they love so much was permitted to exist in the first place. The antics of Artangel in failing to abide by this agreement, of course, will make this and other councils wary of such agreements in the future.