The Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg was recently photographed playing Pokemon Go in the Norwegian Parliament, apparently whilst her political opponent Trine Skei Grande, leader of Norway’s Liberal Party, was speaking. This might be taken as an indication that Pokemon Go is very interesting or, quite possibly, that Trine Shei Grande is not. It got me wondering how Erna Solberg was doing and what level she had got to and whether she felt as stupid as I do when I stop in the street because my phone has vibrated to alert me that some little cartoon monster is in the vicinity.
I have never had any interest in computer games before this, and have only taken to Pokemon Go under the influence of younger members of the family and in the hope that it will get me to to walk more. Even though I am predictably hopeless at capturing gyms, I have managed to catch a fair number of pokemon which has taken me to an almost respectable level 18. Unexpectedly, Pokemon Go has also led me to two quite different works of art.
For those very few who don’t know the rules of Pokemon Go, you use your smart phone to try to catch pokemon, pocket sized monsters, with cute names like a wild Meowth, with poke balls and you get poke balls at local landmarks, which were identified and photographed by players in a game called Ingress back in the mists of time in game terms, or about three years ago.
Hastings, it turns out, is rich in pokestops as the good folks who live here, as well as visitors obviously, did a lot of photographing. So there I was, walking along the front towards St Leonard’s, trying to hatch an egg, (you hatch eggs through walking;) when the phone vibrated and I was alerted that there was a Banksy nearby. I knew that one existed but as it is unmarked and you can only see it from the beach, I had never found it, but I was delighted to do so; here it is and the council obviously accept that it is a Banksy as they have put a piece of Perspex over it rather than tried to rub it off.
The other artwork was more of a challenge. That happened in London; I was near Soho square when the phone told me of a pokestop marked by”a man falling off a horse”. It looked from the picture like a very fine statue but it was nowhere to be seen.
One of the oddities of Pokemon Go is that it can claim landmarks in places where they don’t exist, either because the original player wasn’t too good at the geo-coordinates or because, sometimes, as in this case, landmarks move. After making enquiries I did manage to track down the “man falling off a horse” though it is more properly known as the conversion of St Paul. It now stands near the actor’s church of St Paul’s in Covent Garden,
The statue is by the artist Bruce Denny and although it takes a traditional form, it was created only in 2010 and unveiled by Judy Dench just last year. On the plinth are the words from Acts 26 13 , “I saw a light from Heaven brighter than the sun.” It is a very fine statue but it is particularly striking at night when excellent lighting becomes part of it and emphasises that the Saint is portrayed at the moment of his blinding.