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Mixed messages

astragal

Terry Farrell understands the way civil servants think. Artist Liam Gillick, who Farrell is collaborating with on the new Home Office headquarters in London, suggested running a giant message across the main facade of the building. Farrell knew this could spell trouble, so he told Gillick to get the Home Office to concentrate on the content, rather than the concept. It worked. It rejected the first proposed message as too radical and eventually, after many committee meetings, settled on one they considered acceptable. So what does it say?

Farrell wasn't telling and, since only indecipherable fragments of it appear on some fritted windows, nobody will ever know. Relaying this story at the Richard Catt memorial lecture at the University of Westminster, Farrell said he preferred today's more flexible approach to artistic collaboration over the rigidity of the '1 per cent for art' concept. That 1 per cent could be surprisingly flexible - one developer shifted a Barry Flanagan hare to a different building after a potential tenant said he would only take the lease on if he could 'get rid of that bloody rabbit'.

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