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The leaning fir tree of Southampton

9 December 2018

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories

Christmas is upon us and, as ever, public art institutions are hurling themselves into the spirit of things. In London, the National Gallery, the RA and the National Portrait Gallery all have their trees in place, while Monster Chetwynd has decked out the façade of Tate Britain with a pair of giant leopard slugs. (To anyone unfamiliar with her work: yes, really.)

But, as ever at this time of year, not everything is going to plan. Readers may recall that last year, the mayor of Rome became the subject of much mockery when the city’s official Christmas tree shed its needles just two weeks after being installed.

This year’s festive fudge has been given a rather more positive spin. In Southampton, a 30ft Christmas tree installed on the city’s Guildhall Square has been having a distinctly wonky time of it. Almost as soon as it had been put into place, the tree was buffeted by high winds so strong that it began to visibly list to one side.

The tilting tree has proved a surprise hit, however, with people queuing up to take selfies in front of it. One resident who spoke to the Southern Daily Echo went so far as to dub it an ‘art piece’, while – with some inevitability – others have branded the tree ‘Southampton’s answer to the leaning tower of Pisa.’ A fir-fetched comparison indeed…

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