Wednesday 23 January 2019


The Guardian headline on 7th July 2018 read: 
Enough of the knob gags: penis size is a mental health issue

see -

The sub-text introduction started:
An academic studying penis size and self-esteem received many puerile messages. But for many men, it's no joke.
by Rhiannon Lucy Cossett

. . .
and there she was, the penis-size reporter, a young lady: an image of her head and shoulders was located to the right of the headline text wearing a bright floral top with yellows, reds, and greens prettily massed as flowers on white; with long, dark hair seductively draping over it - lengthy, straight locks joined by a low, bridging eyebrow fringe framing large, stunning, Egyptian-cat eyes. Oddly, the eyes appeared to be staring slightly upwards at . . . ? Was it a high camera? Was it the sly avoidance of an observation of significant penis size? Maybe it was a surprise reaction to someone's 'member'? The very restrained smirk seemingly awkwardly held back by the mouth pushing out puffy, rosy red, flushed cheeks, suggested maybe the latter.

But enough of jokes. Wasn't the whole article about the subject not being taken seriously? The odd thing is how so many particular issues are now said be considered mental health issues. Just the other day, the news report carried the story that computer games were now considered a mental health problem - a matter of addiction. Gambling has been categorized similarly in the MH genre, in the same way that an exaggerated involvement in social media has been. More recently, narcissism has been spoken about as a MH issue. . . . and now architecture itself: see - ArchitectureAU Discourse Opportunity and autonomy: mental wellbeing (sic) in architecture Catriona Li Bisset.

The point is that everything is potentially a MH issue; that everything in life, in all of its aspects, involves MH issues. Buddhists speak about the approach to manage MH matters as 'right thinking; right feeling' - of ' right knowing.' The Greeks summarised the circumstance as 'Know thyself,' words that were engraved next to more advice: 'Nothing in excess.' Indeed, life itself is a MH challenge: but our era is becoming so rationally specialised that it perceives issues as fragments, as piecemeal, unrelated aspects of being, and then concentrates on the further differentiation of each isolated particle, with the specialist investigation and analysis of each minuscule portion of every tiny piece of information as if it alone was significant, while it is wholeness, too, that needs attention in all ways and varieties. This was once considered 'holiness,' and religion was once the manager of MH issues, with guidance like: 'in whatever state you might be in, be content.'^ Now we know religion as the opiate of the people, itself a numbing, misguided MH addiction to be wary of, avoided for its cranky extremes.

We need to forget categories and analysis - well, no; we need to understand the limited, the specific role of science, of our rational world, and begin again to look at complex wholes, interrelationships, to comprehend and accept the fuzzy, incomplete, enchanting, uncertain world that we all participate in - to feel it, sense it, exercise compassion in it; care for it without any demands for definition or division; with tolerance - religion called the approach charity, supported by faith and hope: love.^^

Whatever one wants to name it, the challenge to change and recognise and respect wholeness needs to happen. Concentrating on penis size and its implications might be someone's speciality, jokes aside, but we must come to understand how specifically limited the study is. What might be next? Small breasts, hands, feet, fingers, eyebrows, finger nails, nipples, etc.? . . my insignificance as an architect in a world of heroes? - see ArchitectureAU above.*

The need for wholeness and understanding, for respecting, and being aware of divers interconnections with humility should be obvious to all who look beyond the size and rating of anything. Consider the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, the sky . . and the question: what is man that you are mindful of him?# Consider the sparrow; the lily.** In one sense the proposition is Shakespearean in its awareness.

And all we can try to be serious about is penis length? . . . and we make cocky jokes about the work only in relation to penile references, rather than promote pungently potent jibes to highlight the study's minority role in life and living, its indulgent insignificance in the scope of things. One could suggest that the study, the interest in the subject itself, constituted a MH issue when taken out of context.

But what has this to do with architecture? It was Frank Lloyd Wright who, in The Future of Architecture, referred to 'the words of the architect of ancient times called carpenter who gave up architecture to work upon its source,' the beginnings of architecture. The words he cited to were: Consider the lilies, how they grow: they toil not; they spin not. (Matthew 6:28). It is advice that needs to be taken up without delay and self-interested diversions, for we need to return to our roots for inspiration and guidance rather than be led by circular, analytical perceptions driven by the hedonistic self-importance of social media - and penis size.

Tradition always saw in origins, in inspiration, a role for remembrance, the remembering of and respect for beginnings, a position that had nothing to do with being bespoke.*** It was only in this sense of understanding that one could truly be 'original.' This approach had nothing to do with any personal preferences of self- promoted geniuses. Yes, architects need to consider MH matters too, and think of beginnings as remembered origins, sources in being, rather than to seek out so-called originality perceived as an individual's unique 'self-expression': good work^^^ in architecture needs to be considered as the breadth, length, depth, and height of genesis in the making of space and place## - not of penis size, when considered as a metaphor for self-importance.

The concept of wholeness highlights the one dimensional hedonism in the detailed consideration of penis length, while referencing a richness and complexity in architecture that is so rare in our world today: see -

Philippians 4 : 11 (KJV)
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (KJV)
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three: and the greatest of these is charity.
* Google 'Architecture' and the array of portraits appears in this order:
Frank Lloyd Wright; Frank Gehry; Zaha Hadid; Le Corbusier; Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; Rem Koolhaus
It sseems that this represents the Googled world of heroic importance.
# Psalm 8: 3 - 4 (KJV)
3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
** Matthew 6: 25 - 34
Ananda Coomaraswamy's writings are a good introduction to this concept and its implications.
Ephesians 3:18
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
Bruno Zevi Architecture as Space
see E.F. Schumacher Good Work

Note: For more on penis size, see The Guardian report by Brigid Delaney Big dick energy: what is it, who has it and should we really care? Brigid is illustrated as a head in a small red circle below the headline text. Her hair is blonde, straight, and dark at the top; her lips are bright red, matching the background of the encompassing circle; the eyes look circumspect, suggesting some concern with the subject. One could say the portrait does not exude BDE: see - 

Tuesday 22 January 2019


It was made to look all rosy and positive. The article by Philip Follent in ArchitetureAU Discourse, The search for an authentic architecture and city form on the Gold Coast, presented everything in glowing terms. One was left wondering why the critical eye can be so blinded to ordinary realities. The Gold Coast is not as wonderful as the piece made it appear, authentic or not. The best example of the hyped, promotional sense of the article is the Gold Coast sign that is located in the middle of the M1 motorway at Yatla.

The illustration in the article shows this 2.1 million dollar artwork shining brightly and clearly, looking truly 'Gold Coast' with its speckled, sparkle haze. The trouble is that it seems that the two-way artwork can only be read from two positions, (wrong*), each on the opposite sides of the M1, the main highway that connects Brisbane to the Gold Coast. Hundreds of thousands of vehicles pass the artwork every day, but all that is seen is a cluster of lights on poles of varying heights, with the galvanised steel tubes painted yellow at different distances above the ground. One is left asking “What?” and “Why?” During the day, one explains the shambles as being designed for the night; at night, one wonders why that particular portion of the highway has been so uniquely illuminated: might it mark a boundary between cities in the same way as the border artworks identify the crossings between Queensland and New South Wales at Coolangatta/Tweed Heads?
'Authentic' Gold Coast?

Border marker

The highway lighting artwork is a most puzzling mess that is meaningless to the many who drive past it. Even when seen as a spatial glow at night, one cannot make anything sense of the installation. Once one has been told what it is all about, the piece still stubbornly remains totally unintelligible. The first time the work was seen, one was left totally befuddled; one could make nothing coherent of the apparent meaningless cluster other than seeing what looks like a random clutter of yellow posts with lights at their bent ends. When told it read 'Gold Coast,' the experience of passing remained a struggle, as one tried hard to read what one knew was there. The art was totally incomprehensible.

Border sculpture

The only time one has seen the 'Gold Coast' message has been in this ArchitectureAU article, in the published photograph. So it does not come as a surprise to hear that the City of Gold Coast Council is planning to remove the work: see -  One is left wondering how the piece and the expenditure got approved when it seemed always destined to be totally ineffective in delivering its message to the masses.

It has been said that train passengers can read the words, but this is only one side of the artwork. One has no idea who might ever be positioned to read the message that faces the other direction, or where this location might be: (wrong*).

The 'GC' sign: note difference with artist's concept below - was the concern vandalism?

Has it been that the dumb enthusiasm and group excitement for the proposal has egged it through the approval process without anyone bothering to think beyond a universally positive outcome that was never there? Could not the selection committee see what the dominant, primary highway experience would be?^ Was no question ever asked, or answered? Was it seriously only ever intended for rail passengers passing by at night? Has any of the committee ever been on the Gold Coast train at night? All one can see are the interior reflections in the windows. 

The artist's impression of the piece above outside the airport.
There is a stark difference here between the vision and the reality.

It is an interesting idea that has been replicated in miniature near the Coolangatta airport as a 'GC' smaller than the artist’s impression, with letters that are skewed towards the traffic. These lights can be clearly read by all who drive past, if they are travelling north. The full text in the larger artwork at Yatla does not address the traffic flow; it projects its slick message over the heads and at right angles to the perpetual flow of vehicles.

'Gold Coast'?

Might not the artist have been aware of the limitation of the work? Was there supposed to be some delight in the poles themselves? One is always happy to see the enthusiasm of an artist for an artwork, but getting over-excited uncritically, without pondering all the possibilities of the performance, its constraints and failures, will only ever lead to the inherent problems surfacing as realities soon after completion.

'Gold Coast'?

It is truly sad that the work is going to be removed, as it sets a terrible example for the future of artworks in our towns and cities, and on our highways. The danger is that this piece will become for art, what the 'Opera House' has turned into for architecture. The construction and budget problems with the Sydney Opera House are always raised when it is suggested that a project could be the subject of a public competition, or when an experimental structure might be proposed. The response is usually, "We don't want another Opera House!" and everyone knows that this statement is referring to Utzon’s Sydney Opera House. The reverberations of these troubles remain even to this day: architectural competitions are few and far between; and architects are encouraged to be ‘safe and conservative,’ all because of the Sydney experience that came to be seen as 'a waste of money.' It makes no difference that the Opera House has turned out to be a World Heritage icon.

The danger with what appears to be an expensive, ill-considered artwork, is that future artworks will come to be seen in the same way, as 'a waste of money.' One can see the $2.1 million 'Gold Coast' dazzle, (it gets worse**), being used to prove the point, and have projects completed without any art, or with something cheap and mundane that will not create any ‘news-worthy’ problems, but still tick all of 'the boxes.'
'Authentic' Gold Coast?

We need art, but it must be rigorous and effective, thoroughly thought through, beautifully crafted and constructed, and a constant delight for the spirit. It has to be more than a smart idea that can be interpreted only by a few passersby who happen to be in the right spot.

Let's hope the City of Gold Coast Council will use the light poles around the city, and leave them yellow,## to remain as reminders of the Yatla piece, not only of what it once was, but also to emphasise that we must always work harder and remain critical of our art, just as we should with our architecture and planning. Delighting in some new 'authenticity' is too easy.

The Gold Coast does not need the positive, promotional hype we see in the article; it needs rigour, critiques, questions and testing so that we do not end up with the mess that this artwork appears to have left us in. Planning and 'Gold Coast' style are in need of it.

Philip Follent ArchitetureAU Discourse The search for an authentic architecture and city form on the Gold Coast

Gold Coast hype


Only since looking closer at the images has it now become clear that the artwork has letters facing just one way, towards the railway-side of the motorway. This revelation highlights the muddled confusion that the artwork generates. From the highway, one is given the idea that the lights form letters facing two ways, to be read from both directions, such are the significant mirrored gestures of the poles. Apparently not: the layer of lights that are on the second set of posts that face the opposite side of the highway to that of the railway, forms another set of letters that shadow those that face the railway. It is certainly a most enigmatic work.
There is yet another matter to note: the concept of using light poles for letters is an idea that seems to work well for every letter without vertical lines. The artist apparently remains unconcerned that the dense distribution of lighting dots that define the letters disappears in the verticals of the 'L,' the 'D,' and the 'T.' One wonders why the system was not worked on more, or indeed altered, to light up all the letters completely, and with some degree of equivalence rather than leaving voids, blind spots, when things become too complicated or difficult in the realisation of the idea. Rigour and integrity in art should never be compromised by appearance or excuses.

On the perception of the artwork being a ‘waste of money’: matters are not getting any better. Already news reports are announcing that it will cost another $255,000 to remove the $2.1 million work. The Council has apparently asked the artist# if she wishes to purchase the artwork, to take it back. If not, the pieces will go into storage.## Council said it has responded to the public reaction to the work. People have been complaining not only about the cost, but also about the fact that they cannot read it. This latter point is difficult to dispute.

One wonders if an alternative site could be found to allow the sign to be seen by everyone, in all of its glorious sparkle. Just imagine the artwork standing tall and proud like the Angel of the North in Gateshead.

23 January 2019
The artist for the project was Ada Tolla – see:
More recent reports suggest that Council might recycle the artwork as city lighting. One can only hope that the yellow colour is maintained.

24 January 2019

The artist has said, (on Channel 9 News 23 January 2019), that everyone involved knew that the sign could not be read from the highway. One wonders who the artwork sign was supposed to be addressing. If it was only for train passengers travelling to and from the Gold Coast, as has been suggested, one has to be concerned. Not only is the night view blinded by the interior reflections in the train windows, but the reading of the sign by day is difficult without the clarity of the lighting. One needs time to decipher the intent, but it is time that is limited by the speed of the train. One is left looking backwards to see if one can see what one knows is there, but alas . . .

30 January 2019
The news report today now says that Council has decided not to immediately demolish the sign, but to leave it there until a suitable site for it is found: see -  Who knows what its future might be? Apparently everybody dislikes it in its current position.
1 February 2019

With this latest news considered in the context of the original article, one has to ask the question: is this apparently casually adaptable process authentic City of Gold Coast planning? Good planning requires much more commitment and rigour.