AT the moment, the travelling Festival Exhibition at Woodhouse Moor, Leeds, consists chiefly of shavings and canvas, bits of broken packing cases and endless hammering.
The first thing you find in the foyer is a group of three 12ft figures in jade green plaster which represent industry and effort and all that – reading from left to right, Mr Industry, Mr Communications and Mr Effort. Mr Industry has a pick and an idealistic expression. Mr Communications is obviously startled out of his wits by the flash springing between the transmitting towers in his hands, and Mr Effort is burdened with whiskers and a huge boulder.
The group, which is due for sun-ray treatment with a bronze spray, shows Epstein influences but is otherwise conceived in the spirit of some of the detail of the Albert Memorial.
From the foyer, you travel down the Corridor of Time, which looks endless but is in fact mercifully brief. It is all done with mirrors and spirals of fluorescent paint. It brings you to the Central Arena, where you will find more fluorescent paint and three charming young ladies in information kiosks who will tell you where to go from there.
If you are fascinated by oversize test tubes you will probably go the the Discovery section, where at no extra charge you can have a lot of fun with an electrical device which changes the colours on the ceiling.
But if you take my advice you will head for the Homes section, which does seem to have a bearing – if sometimes a slightly mystifying one – on practical issues.
Here there is a nursery with two tier bunks, shipshape and Bristol fashion. No child ever falls out of the top bunk twice. He learns sense the first time.
The floor is marked out for games and there is a series of alphabetically marked drawers for not keeping things in.
Over the way there is a living room, with chairs consisting chiefly of of leather straps, and a futuristic standard lamp which sacrifices all considerations of space to fantastic design, and is neatly adapted for wrapping you under the chin at the same time as it trips you up.
The room also has a Topolski print, various odd and unnecessary little bits of glass for impressing the neighbours, an electric fire and a bronze coal scuttle, whose purpose I am at a loss to interpret.
At this point I must confess I lost interest. The Toys section looked as if it might be rather good, but the toys weren’t there yet. In fact, the answer to premature and unkind criticisms such as mine is that the exhibition is nowhere near completion, and won’t be until the end of next week.
In the meantime, I have certain sympathies with Queen Victoria on her pedestal on the other side of the road, who thinks that Albert did the whole thing so much better in 1851.