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News£35k "Whale penis" sculpture falling to bits two years after erection

£35k “Whale penis” sculpture falling to bits two years after erection

A “whale penis” sculpture created by one of the world’s top artists is “falling to bits” just after two years after it was erected.

The piece, entitled ‘Phantom’, was created by Scots artist David Mach.

The 60-year-old sculptor, who has been nomintaed for the Turner Prize. is famous for work including the “Big Heids” on M8 near Glasgow and his “Out of order” red telephone boxes in Kingston Upon Thames, London.

The 30ft high Phantom is located on the esplanade in Kirkcaldy, Fife, and was commissioned by the local Morrisons supermarket for £35,000.

Mach, from nearby Methil, was commissioned after planners insisted on sculpture as a condition for letting the supermarket chain build its store.

The sculpture was not completed until 2015 and immediately dubbed the “whale’s penis” by irreverent locals.

And now some of the nails used to pin it in place have rusted and are coming away whilst parts of the wood have rotted and are falling off.

The design is made of driftwood and is supposed to represent waves, with numerous metal tacks to catch sunlight, however, some have claimed it looks like something completely different.

Councillor Neil Crooks, chairman of the Kirkcaldy area committee, said: “My view is this piece is an embarrassment to David Mach, who is a well respected artist.

“People have called Mach’s work a whale’s penis but since its erection it has not brought a lot of pleasure to its surroundings.

“I would not be sorry to see it taken down as it has rusted and deteriorated very quickly and certainly did not achieve the ambition of the area committee, which requested an “iconic piece” of public art to mark the entry to the waterfront.

“I actually thought it was unfinished and maybe rushed into place to meet a deadline.”

Following complaints about its state of disrepair, Mr Mach has confirmed that he will visit the area to carry out any repairs that are required.

He said: “It was a new piece and it was untested in the way of making it.

“It is certainly the ugliest thing I have ever made, but it is a really powerful sculpture and that’s part of it.

“It is meant to rust and discolour in parts, but I don’t like the idea of nails falling off it.

“I will go up next week and check it out. If it is really beginning to fall to bits I will repair it and if the worst comes to the worst, I might need to take it down.”

A spokesman for Morrisons said: “Our colleagues have tidied the area. We are looking into the longer term maintenance of the artwork.”

David Mach studied at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee and graduated in 1979.

He then went onto study at the Royal College of Art in London between 1979 and 1982.

He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1988 and in 2000 joined the Royal Academy of Arts as a Professor of Sculpture.


Speaking today (FRI) David Mach joked: “Whether they think it’s a whale’s penis or not, I’ve never had a problem with erections.

“If that’s the size of a whale’s penis they’re lucky. Don’t get me started on what the councillor had to say.

“It seems to have sexual connotations to it. My favourite is women who say it looks like a ‘rabbit’ one of those sex toys.”

David, speaking from his studio in London, continued: “It’s an ugly brute of a thing. I really like this ugly thug and wanted to create a big f*** off thing.

“I’ve been driving by every day recently and it looks fine from the car but my brother took a look and said it may have been vandalised.

“I’m going to get down next week and if there’s any repairs needing done, we’ll do them.”

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