Here be Unicorns

Unicorns 1996

OPEN CITY-Annual Public Art event
Project: Martin Rieser “Here be Unicorns”
Venue: College Green



Inspector Moseley
Ops Planning
Trinity Road Police Station
Bristol Bs2 0NW
FAX 0117 945 5762
Re:Crime No.A1997005030(N)

Dear Inspector Moseley,

I am writing to you with a rather unusual request for collaboration in a public art project. The project as originally planned has been wrecked by the theft of one of the two computer cut metal templates (see above reference), which was bolted into the earth in ten places. The intention was to create a series of large prints on the grass by blocking photosynthesis for a few days with the metal unicorn templates.

The paler green “shadows” of the unicorns should have shown up as they were progressively moved along a shadow line towards a meeting in the centre of the Green. The imagery was partly an echo of the golden beasts on top of the Council House, but also suggested the loss of an earlier legendary past where nature was an undivided whole. By the public mapping their dreams on the unicorns part of that magic could be recalled. The public was requested to draw their dreams and nightmares on an A4 sheet as line drawings and post them in a special “Dreambox” located in the foyer of the Council House. The drawings would then have been be etched onto the unicorns during the course of the project.

The theft of the template meant that the project had to be abandoned in its intended form. My request is now for the staging of a Police “scene of crime ” scenario, intended as a performance piece to underline the “crime” of thoughtless vandalism in a city that has no room or respect for imaginative public art of this type.

The Police contribution would simply consist of the loan of barriers, tapes and notices for one afternoon: preferably as soon as is mutually convenient. The unicorn shape would be painted as a white “victim position” line on the grass in biodegradable paint. The City Council have already agreed to licence the event as part of the original project. There was considerable press interest in the original theft and articles appeared both in Bristol’s Venue and the Evening Post. They are both keen to follow up the story in a positive way. The humour of the proposal would not be lost on them or the Public.   It has already been agreed that the remaining metal unicorn should be placed in a local Redland Primary School, which would in part provide the “happy ending”. The scene of crime re-enactment could possibly help in the recovery of the missing unicorn, which is also a major aim of the performance.

I do hope you feel able to provide the support for this project as requested and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely,

Martin Rieser


Here Be Unicorns was funded by Open City and UWE Bristol