Q&A - Doug Fishbone, creator of Leisure Land Golf


1. Why did you choose crazy golf as your theme?

Crazy Golf is a unique format, as it is basically a collection of sculptures – so a proper art exhibition in its own right – but people can actually play on it. This allows it to be fun and interactive, but intellectually challenging as well, which is a rare combination in my experience.

There have been numerous mini golf courses involving artist designs before, but never quite like ours, which has a group of internationally regarded artists involved.

We have gone far beyond the conventional dolphins, windmills and loop-de-loops people might be accustomed to, so hold on to your hats!

2. The artists involved are from different global backgrounds; how does this affect the work?

It was wonderful to work with such a team, as everyone brings a different perspective. Given that Leisure Land Golf is looking at globalisation, this makes for a rich collection.

From Nigerian Yinka Shonibare MBE’s look at the economics of football, to architects Eyal and Ines Weizman’s play on a legendary mathematical paradox – leading to the world’s only truly impossible mini golf hole to complete – the course is very wide-ranging indeed.

3. People are able to play the course; what do you hope they will think about while playing?

On the one hand, it is great fun. Everyone loves crazy golf, and the energy when people are playing is always great to see. However, since the piece discusses a number of pressing political questions, like consumerism, police violence and climate change, it offers a more challenging possibility, asking us as players (and as taxpayers and citizens) what our own involvement is in these issues.

4. Your work is both fun and political, is this important for putting across your message?

I feel it is possible to look at some problematic things without being pedantic or overly heavy or beating everyone over the head. Humour is a great tool to use, as it is an attractive invitation into the work without dumbing down anything or turning anybody off.

5. Leisure Land Golf has been in different locations and played by new audiences; how does this affect interpretation?

Each location offers a different stage, and makes for a completely different experience.

In Venice, where the course made its first outing, it was unbelievable to be playing crazy golf right next to a Venetian canal and, as the city is very much a tourist mecca, the messages about globalisation and leisure in the work had a particular resonance.

Each new location brings with it a new energy and set of possibilities as people have a different take on the issues involved, which makes it constantly fresh. I can’t wait to see how it looks in York, and to hear what people make of it.

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