Saturday, May 16, 2009

On the mystery of bronze statues from the 80's

There used to be a time when Chelsea was compared to... 

Moving on, yesterday was definitely a Chelsea day, at least for me, and most of it happened outside of 02150. The most interesting of these little events was meeting Renata Von Tscharner from the Charles River Conservancy in the office in Harvard Square. Renata started the CRC , and has managed to do quite a bit in the last decade. I had been in a community meeting in Chelsea a week ago, Chelsea Greenspace, and representatives from the Charles Watershed Association made a great presentation to us and are helping us with the Chelsea Creek and our local watershed. Community groups in Chelsea are looking to Cambridge and these two non profits for innovation and on ways on how to clean up our waterways from the ground up. While I find that all fascinating I was more intrigued when I found out that Renata Von Tscharner was on an urban renewal planning team that shaped parts of Chelsea 25 years (or so?) ago. In addition to wall painting installations and other projects, there was the addition of the bronze items, which has mystified a number of children and passerbys over the years.

I wish I had a picture on hand, but I don't , and can not seem to have any online, and a Saturday afternoon is not the right time to get good shots of these items as its very busy in Bellingham Square in the Spring on a Saturday afternoon. On a side note, it is amazing how many people have lived in or worked in Chelsea, and how fond their memories are. I guess its true, seeing is believing

These items include a bronze handbag permanently attached to a bench, a coffee cup on a fence an orange half opened on the ground and a pair of ladies gloves on the ground all strewn about but within about 20 feet of each other. The handbag and gloves are placed in such a way that it appears as is a woman was sitting on the bench and had to jump up to catch her bus, leaving the bag and gloves behind. In fact the first time I ever saw the bag I thought that is exactly what happened, I went to grab the bag and tell the woman she had forgotten her bag, to my surprise it was bolted to the bench! They are a homage to a bygone era when women wore fancy gloves, and coffee was served in cups void of any logos. There is a feeling they were waiting for the old trolley to come by and were in such a rush ended up leaving their belongings behind. The woman may have been shopping in the old Chelsea shopping district, while whoever was eating the orange and drinking the coffee was most likely heading down to factories, the same factories that contributed to polluting the very creek we are now trying to clean, and have recently turned into lofts. I have always wondered about the bronze items, left behind by their owners, why are they here, what does it mean? 

Sitting in the offices at Harvard Square, with one of the designers right in front of me I had a chance to ask. It turns out there is no meaning, they were designed to make people think, jump start peoples imaginations, and get people talking to each other... Mission accomplished, and here I was thinking I was looking at it the wrong way all these years.

Picked up and reposted by Universal Hub:


Anonymous said...

Matt! This is a great post. I have always wondered about those bronze items myself. As a child (~9 years old) Bellingham Square held a certain magic because of these mysterious pieces. They were art, but they were art that inspired me like no other art... I always felt like it was a gift from an anonymous giver who wanted to inspire my own imagination about who left them why there were there. If I recall, there is also a young person's sweater on the ground. Anyway, thanks for the post.

Ellison Tavico said...

I can honestly say that I never gave much thought to the bronze sculptures in Bellingham Square. They were just part of the city, like the Clock and gazebo at Bellingham Square. This was a great post as I am currently interested in the history of Chelsea.

Matt said...

Thanks for the kind words!