If it is right, it looks right.
I think that I will blame this editorial on our multi-talented treasurer, and art editor for Startline, Tony Cotton. Startline's editorials are written by myself, but illustrated by Tony. No requests or instructions accompany the editorial text, and I wait with ill-concealed anticipation to see what Tony has found by way of illustration. Inevitably, there is an element of 'lets feed Tony this line, and see what he does with it'. Last month I fed him the line about modern art, I anticipated Tony's illustration being an unmade bed, or a pile of bricks, but I was disappointed, he refused to sully Startline's pages with such famous offerings, and instead chose as an example the work of Sam Taylor Wood. While Wood’s work does not send any deep messages to me, I find it entertaining and well produced. But then on a point of principle I refuse to read the spiel that is an intrinsic part of much modern art, believing that if the object that is under study cannot convey its message without assistance, it is in some way deficient.
So is your editor an artistic philistine incapable of appreciating his surroundings? In my defence I offer the AGM weekend at Tewkesbury, The drive to the town, via the Fosse Way, was delightful. To those that don't know the Fosse Way, it is one of the country’s most enjoyable driving roads, even when the snow tracks on the road determine the line, and make accuracy essential, these conditions gave the drive additional piquancy. Tewkesbury town has historic charm and is pleasingly situated. On Saturday morning, with the sun glinting off the snow on the Welsh hills, and a Tiger Moth doing aerobatics over the Ham (a flood plain island between the Severn and the Avon), one could have been in a beautiful time warp; waiting only for the prototype Spitfire, in polished aluminium, to beat up the town.
Although its appearance was not part of the design brief the Spitfire is universally recognised as a beautiful artefact, the best looking aircraft of its generation, and with Stoneleigh Show imminent, I was wondering if one could apply a similar accolade to any single seat racing cars, especially any that could race in Monoposto. Naturally, this topic could be contentious and it must be pointed out that I am not referring to the: cleanest, best prepared, shiniest car, but to one that will probably have these attributes, and be proportioned so as to be pleasing to the eye.
Pleasing to the eye can be rephrased as 'if it looks right it is right'. This may not always be true but the converse usually is. During one Stoneleigh Show I shared the Monoposto Stand with Simon Davey and Tristan's Dallara. Simon took time to educate me about the quality detailing on the Dallara, one example of a quality designer or design team. For me, Tristan's Dallara ticked all the boxes but for overall shape, the latter being determined by the need to generate down force within F3's restrictions. Some will disagree with this view, but I think if the observer is not true to his or her own opinion than an element of 'the emperor’s new cloths enters the discussion'. Mind you giving out such opinions can be unwise, as I discovered when I expressed an opinion about a bridesmaid dress that my daughter was recently required to wear.............
My views about the quality of much modern art crystallised the day after I visited Tate Modern. I was in one of Boston's local hostelries, it was not the roughest pub in Boston, there was another pub between it and the docks, if you understand my meaning. Into this less than salubrious establishment came a group of bikers of the brand usually identified as 'Hell's Angels'. One of these young men was carrying a shiny piece of alloy, which was passed round the group for them to examine and admire, it looked better crafted than the majority of the stuff exhibited at Tate Modern, it was then that I decided that for art to merit my appreciation, it had to include an element of craftsmanship and that useful artefacts can be regarded as art.
I stand in awe of craftsman/artist who can stand in front of a large marble block and can turn it into a statue, but as Brian Sewell has pointed out, not all such stonemasons are great artists and not all old statues that find their way into museums are artistically worthy. Similarly, I appreciate the skill of a welder who can turn a pile of tubes into a chassis and the lexicon of skills needed to produce a functioning racing car from the bare chassis, but not all products of such a process will be aesthetically pleasing, or function well.
So what are the motor racing equivalents of the Spitfire? In my opinion, nothing that I have owned. The late lamented Circuit Driver magazine gave my two seater a 'best budget track car' award, but in the article accompanying the award described it as shabby, and pug ugly. Shabby I agreed with, it had been in my ownership for several years (it's even shabbier now), but to me it looked about as attractive as most two seaters with enveloping bodywork, and that’s not saying much. Back to single seaters, my old RF84’s weird proportions gave it a strange charm, I once heard it described as "a lovely old RF84" by the PA at Snetterton, as the car’s owner I disagreed. The Swift SC97 was a bit too bulbous and curved for my taste, I tend to prefer the slimmer SC98 and the Van Diemens and Mygales manufactured about ten years ago. I am probably on safe ground with regard to Tony if I suggest that one of Monoposto’s better looking cars is Van Diemen’s 8v Formula Vauxhall. Freed of the need to compete with other manufacturer's Formula Ford 1600s, they gave the car a bit of style ( even if the radiator aperture strakes are cribbed from a Ferrari Testa Rossa).
So as you tour the exhibits at Stoneleigh, and remembering that a Spitfire's
style is our standard, keep a look out for the most stylish single seater.
Perhaps we should have several categories:
My preferences would appear to rate Colin Chapman amongst the true artists!
And I have deliberately left most of the Monoposto field without comment.
I look forward to your suggestions. Good Hunting!
Over to Tony.
And so that Patrick's not disappointed here's the art editor's top 3 horrors. One make Fuya-Jo series anybody?