Blackpool Tide Organ artist blasts council for its neglect and calls for it to be pulled down

The artist behind one of Blackpool’s most unusual sculptures has said he would rather see it demolished than it be ‘neglected any longer’.

Monday, 7th June 2021, 5:11 pm

The artist behind one of Blackpool’s most unusual sculptures has said he would rather see it demolished than it be ‘neglected any longer’.

Liam Curtin says the High Tide Organ, on the Promenade next to Sandcastle and Pleasure Beach, is ‘loved by many, just not the council’ and has blasted town hall officials for its neglect.

The 70-year-old from Manchester worked alongside fellow artist John Gooding to design the 15 metre tall metal structure and constructed in 2002 as part of ‘The Great Promenade Show’ series of sculptures situated along Blackpool’s New Promenade.

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The Tide Organ was constructed in 2002
The Tide Organ was constructed in 2002

The tide organ was only meant to be in place for 12 years yet nearly two decades later it is still in place and Liam says it has been ‘badly neglected’ by the council.

He said: “I think the council’s default position is doing nothing, certainly about its public art. It does nothing.

“From around 2000 to 2002 quite a few works were commissioned for the South Shore Promenade and they failed to maintain them despite getting maintenance schedules for each of the artworks, including the Tide Organ. A maintenance schedule is the thing that tells you what to do to maintain the artwork. You might maintain a motor car and if you fail to do so it will eventually need to have big repairs done to it. So they haven’t maintained it and I have asked them repeatedly and repeatedly to do some maintenance to which they say they haven’t got any budget for that.

“Meanwhile, they commissioned for new artwork, such as the Comedy Carpet which they spent £2.6million So the council go and commission more art but don’t maintain what they’ve already commissioned to the point at which it is actually a danger to the public so I’m quite frustrated by it because I’ve offered all sorts of things and I get no response.”

Designed to be in use for 12 years, it's designer said it has been neglected by the council

Liam said he talks to council officials ‘periodically’ about the sculpture but they ‘don’t act on it’.

He said: “The thing that offends me the most is that they are disrespectful towards me. I did a lot of work for them on their behalf in the hope of regenerating the town along with some other people and they’re just disrespect that.

“The Tide Organ is world famous and it actually has inspired a new one in New York which is being built on the East River in Harlem so I am frustrated, angry and fed up with Blackpool Council’s manner with how they have treated the one of the Prom. I think the council’s aim is probably to leave the actual main feature of the organ in place but not have it working which is absolutely not acceptable and pointless. I have even at one point offered to fund the demolition of the organ and they said they couldn’t let me do that.”

A Blackpool Council spokesman said: “The High Tide Organ is one of a number of seafront artworks installed several years ago and it was always envisaged it would be a time-limited piece.

Liam Curtin said it should be pulled down rather than left to rot

“However, we continued to have a dialogue with the artist during last year about the priorities for maintenance work and the possibility of de-commissioning.

“Safety checks have been undertaken and some remedial works were completed in 2019 alongside a structural survey. Only last week some further maintenance work was undertaken on the piece.

“A new survey is planned and we will, of course, take the artist’s views on board so that we can get an informed view on the potential life span of the structure.

“The last 18 months have been challenging for the public sector and funding for maintenance or decommissioning a piece of art always need detailed consideration and we will try our best to deliver the best outcome.”

However, Blackpool Council officials said it has been inspected and hasn't made any decision to remove the sculpture

In response Liam said: “They do not listen to what I say and we have had a dialogue with a lot of discussions but they have also wasted a lot of my time. I’ve been up to Blackpool several times at my own expense. I’ve also had video meetings and so on so forth but the council is just hopeless.”

He said he is now looking forward to the unveiling of the tidal organ in New York, which he has been invited to.

He said: “It has been inspired by the Blackpool one and it will be looked after and will be cared for.

“I’ve done other artworks across the country and the reason they are maintained is because they are loved.

“The Blackpool Tide Organ was loved by the world but not by Blackpool. It’s been on the BBC, it’s been on the Coast television show, it’s been on other British programmes, Russian television Spanish television, American television. It’s been in magazines and journals all over the world and it’s even on the physics curriculum in France because there’s a bit of physics involved.

“It’s a celebration of the environment, it’s a celebration of the relationship between the moon and the sea and you would think that they might want to preserve it.”

Artists Liam Curtin and John Gooding pictured in 2002 when it was being constructed