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Take a good look at the photo below. It is a rare image… for now at least.
The Duke of Wellington statue outside of the Gallery of Modern Art is a Glasgow landmark. That’s not because of the work of Italian sculptor Carlo Marochetti who crafted the piece around 1844. It’s because he’s usually seen wearing a traffic cone. Actually the Duke and his noble steed usually sport a number of traffic cones.
First time I saw him wearing a cone was in the early 1980s when we used to have to travel to Glasgow from the Island of Bute if we wanted to see the latest releases at the cinema. Then it seemed just a piece of fun – decorating the dandy Duke with traffic cones. But they became a constant accessory, despite Glasgow Council’s attempts to keep his head cone-free.
In the intervening years the cones have put the Duke of Wellington the map.
I reckon the Duke would prefer a cone on his heid than pigeon droppings. You could also argue that, appropriately given its position, it is an example of modern art.
More than a quarter of a century of cone wearing was threatened when the council declared it was going to fork out £65,000 to raise the statue higher to deter Glasgow’s wits from putting cones on his head.
Yeah right. Like that was ever going to work. They might as well have taken the sixty five grand and thrown it in the Clyde.
Anyone who knows Glasgow will know it’s a city with a sharp, gritty character whose inhabitants don’t react well to being slapped on the wrist and told what to do.
The council made the grave error of not seeking public opinion and a petition was raised, supported by a passionate social media campaign. There’s no prizes for guessing the reaction. Overwhelming support in favour of the cones.
The result? The council backed off and, whilst they still say they’ll take action against ‘cone-placers’, the Duke of Wellington is not going to be nearly three feet taller than he is now.
Basically, everything remains the same.
The whole plan was nonsense. Without the cones, the Duke of Wellington is just another anonymous statue. With them, he’s become a symbol of a city that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
I was gutted when we were there in 2011 and he was naked. Although the statue wasn’t totally cone-free.
Rome has the Colosseum. Paris has the Eiffel Tower. London has Buck Palace.
Glasgow has a statue with a traffic cone on its heid.
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to lots of other places. Follow Jack on Google+