It's very easy, as June Sampson has shown, to write pieces criticising the David Mach sculpture (and it is a sculpture, not a "sculpture" as she prefers to style it) but I would like to offer a few words, and facts, in its defence, and suggest why it should be seen as a solution, not a problem, as far as the traders of London Road are concerned.

The Tumbling Telephone Boxes were one of a number of artworks commissioned as environmental improvements associated with the building of the Kingston relief road.

The others included a figure on a plinth at the opposite end of London Road (hardly seen because of an overgrown street tree), the "crinkle-crankle" (wavy) wall which borders the relief road opposite Ashdown Road, and a sculpture for the centre of College Roundabout which was never built.

I was a member of the Highways Committee at the time and one of those who approved the construction of these art works.

The decision was made by an all-party group of councillors and ratified by the full council (although the then Liberal SDP Alliance soon started to revise history and try and distance themselves at the first whiff of any local criticism!).

The commission to David Mach for the telephone boxes was some £15,000; the additional costs were involved in laying out the site at the end of London Road (which would have been laid out with a cycle path in any event).

The cost of the artworks was absorbed within what are termed "accommodation works" and formed a minute proportion of the total expenditure on the relief road.

It is not unusual for major highway schemes to be "softened" with landscaping, environmental improvements and public art in which, it must be noted, many local authorities here and abroad take pride.

The David Mach sculpture actually serves two purposes in combining public art with a reference to one of the UK's most famous and enduring pieces of street furniture; namely the Gilbert Scott red telephone kiosk.

At a time when British Telecom were happily ripping these wonderful boxes out of pavements throughout the country and replacing them with flimsy, souless alternatives, this sculpture enabled the centre of Kingston to preserve an example of this particular British icon and do so in a way which was innovative and amusing.

The most ridiculous suggestion is to do away with the boxes just because certain people can only conceive public artwork as long dead monarchs and generals sitting astride pigeon dropping splattered bronze horses.

The cost of removing the David Mach sculpture and making good the site could well equal the cost of putting it there - and that money could be better spent on proper signage and publicity help for the London Road retailers.

Also, just consider what sort of message would be sent out by the borough that demolished the work of an internationally-famous sculptor at the same time that it was attempting to convince the outside world (including investors) that we are not all philistines here and want to establish a theatre in the town.

Let's see the boxes for what they, enjoy them, and carry on living in the 21st century!


Ellerton Road


I feel that June Sampson was responsible for an extremely one sided and ill-advised "comment".

Would it not be even more "out of order" for the sculpture to be removed (at extra expense) when it could simply be cleaned and cared for? Surely, if Kingston council put a bit more effort and interest into the centre of the town for which they are responsible, the sculpture could improve business in London Road by attracting attention to the street.

Finally, I would like to thank David Mach for doing what all good artists do; creating an argument.


Garrison Lane, Chessington


I think the phone boxes are a monstrous eyesore especially in such a historic Royal town as Kingston.

When I have taken visitors around Kingston they have thought they had been dumped there by a scrap company or telephone company!

Mrs J M Axe

Bodley Road

New Malden

My wife and I are Kingstonians and we are totally against this eyesore. How it was ever allowed to happen is beyond us.

We pass this spot several times every week, like the mayor in 198, may own words and thoughts are unprintable.

I would like to suggest several alternative sites for this monstrosity.

The recycling dump in Villiers Road or outside the entrance to the Guildhall or in Mr Mach's front garden.

John Knowles

New Malden

Most people I know have always hated the phone boxes, or laughed at them, or both.

My mother has the misfortune of being a tenant of Kingston borough - outside her flat are several massive trees belonging to the council which are not only blocking the view from her living room and bedroom but are making her flat really dark.


Everytime the council is asked to lop the trees they say they haven't the funds yet they don't mind spending thousands of pounds on useless rubbish!

Get rid of the phone boxes!



(with relatives living in Kingston)