Writer’s block

I’ve been to St Katharine Docks many times but only noticed this strange piece of art at the weekend. It hangs from the end of the rather austere Tower Hotel and seems to hover in its frame. It reminds me of some religious icons I’ve seen in very Roman churches. As I stared at the block, all around me danced the merry chaos of the Thames Revival festival of boats. An old steamer insisted on sounding its horn, emitting with each blare a heady waft of oily smoke and steam. From the main dock came more sounds of aquatic jollification, as people wearing vintage outfits messed about on the water beneath bunting and clinking masts. Despite these distractions, I wanted to know more about the artwork. Seeing a small panel beneath it on the wall, I went to read its story. It said:

The Silver Jubilee Crystal Crown was sculpted on this site by Arthur Fleischmann KCSG, FRBS, MD, who pioneered carving in Perspex. The block measures 10’9″ by 5’9″ by 8″ thick and weighs two tons. It is the largest solid block of Acrylic in the world. It was originally made in 1968 for Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001 – A Space Odyssey”, but was rejected by the director in favour of the now famous black basalt monolith. Her Majesty the Queen unveiled the sculpture on June 5th 1977.

Just to be crystal clear, it was the block itself that was commissioned for the film – Fleischmann only worked on it after Kubrick had rejected it. In the novel/film it is suggested that the monoliths are indestructible, and that they might be considered to be an advanced form of networked robot. But in 3001: The Final Odyssey the three monoliths known to mankind are destroyed – by infecting them with a computer virus. At this point I would normally attempt a comic finale that links destruction by computer virus to Fleischmann’s artwork and our dearly beloved Queen, but that seems to be beyond me. Perhaps it was all that maritime merriment.


A seemingly indestructible monolith that's been around for aeons... Add your own punch line here.


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