Time for our cultural melange to be viewed in a positive light
David Blunkett is struggling with his terrorist bill, which has within it an inherent idea of what is acceptable behaviour to an assumed British sensibility.Although not intended, it is a type of definition of culture. If we wish to live in a multicultural society, we may have to accept that the texture of day-to-day life will not always seem as smooth as it always used to be remembered.
In the world of the built environment, the idea of a reference to the vernacular in the future will be difficult as we allow different forms of cultural expression to creep into towns and cities. To date we have mosques, which perhaps ought to be better examples of their foreign counterparts, and we have imported neo-Spanish haciendas, thanks not to the Spanish, but to the English tourist.The first is still frowned upon by local residents and the second accepted with open arms by the planners as volume home builders explain them away as existing due to 'market forces'.
Presumably, as more Brits go to far-flung destinations, we will be seeing chattel huts from Barbados, Thai houses on stilts and yurts beginning to emerge into our urban fabric. I would much rather see cultural diversity in our environs than temporal reference. In the first case, various geographical starting points would eventually be merged into pretentiously fascinating mutants. It would be interesting to see how these building types would transform to cope with dense minor inner-city requirements.The case of historic reference is really there, I suspect, initially to give credibility to a rather indifferent building. A Tudor style gives weight to the light-weight building block as well as a connection to the power and wit of Henry VIII. This obsession with history is a direct snub to our new immigrants. What meaning does an Elizabethan reference have to them? And think of the untold damage done to such a house as it suffers the easternisation (very often) of a western ideal.
The British tend to be bigoted in all walks of life.Even though they have shown the capacity to both absorb and even identify with cultures when they themselves are abroad (India for example), when at home they believe they are always right.
The press coverage of Martin Creeds'Turner Prize-winning installation of a room with lights going on and off every five seconds, was written as though no person in their right mind could possibly take the work seriously.
There is a smugness in the coverage of the award that suggests that no one, except the art cognoscenti, could possibly think differently. It is like searching for an unconventional or original thought in the bar in the golf club.
I do not care whether Creeds'work is seen as being good or bad, crucial or irrelevant, but I do care that we live in a society that can entertain, tolerate and embrace new ideas, new levels of risk and the strange. It is odd that we should be creating legislation that will make it more difficult for people who can enrich our cultural melange to live here. We are either in favour of a multicultural society, or not. If we are, we should not be measuring our immigrants by how British they are.
I was standing in front of a canvas yesterday trying to see what a nursery school should, or could be. As I drifted through the possibilities of form, behaviour, desire and experience, I discovered that a new nursery school should make no assumption about the culture in which it exists. We live in a rapidly changing 'idea'and the fabric of the school should be multilayered.