When we consider monuments it’s tempting to think of stone statues glorifying great people, events in history, war memorials and more. But these offbeat monuments – several of them art installtions – made from scrap vehicles, recycled metals, stainless steel and even an abandoned fighter plane that became a “work of art” (to some, vandalism to others) by misfortune rather than design, are far from conventional. They are, however, steeped in meaning and history for those who known their stories.
The Cadillac Ranch, Texas, United States
The Cadillac Ranch was created in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, part of avante-garde architecture and graphic arts group Ant Farm. The public art installation features what were at the time either older running or scrap Cadillacs, representing the evolution of the vehicle from 1949 to 1963. More importantly, it tracks the birth and death of the tailfin – considered to be the defining feature of mid-20th Century Cadillacs. Buried nose first in the ground at an angle corresponding to the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Cadillac Ranch was originally located in a wheat field, but was relocated quiety by two miles in 1997. Not surprisingly, the installation has earned its place in US pop culture.
The Famous “A1 Lightning”, XN728, England
(Image: Trevor Bashford, reproduced with permission)
It suffered a more undignified fate than any other English Electric Lightning fighter jet, but it’s for that very reason that XN728 became one of the most famous of its kind. The rare F.2A variant last flew in 1978 and was retired to a yard by the busy A1 road in Nottinghamshire by 1983. Over the years, as the yard’s fortunes ebbed and flowed, the Lightning was vandalised and reduced to a derelict hulk. After almost 30-years, XN728 was a well known landmark to drivers on the A1 and featured in a Paul Smith t-shirt design. But in 2011 the end came (despite numerous attempts by various parties to purchase the airframe) and the Lightning was finally scrapped, marking the end of an era for this Cold War icon and unconventional monument to British military aviation.
Carhenge, Nebraska, United States
Conceived in 1987 by American Jim Reinders while he was living in England, Carhenge is a replica of Stonehenge on the High Plains near Alliance, Nebraska – using 38 silver-painted vintage American cars in place of the ancient stones. Dedicated to Reinders’ father at the June 1987 summer solstice, the heelstone is a 1962 Cadillac and another scrap vehicle serves as the “gravestone” for three other cars that were buried at the site. The “stone” reads: “Here lie three bones of foreign cars. They served our purpose while Detroit slept. Now Detroit is awake and America’s great!”
Gaelic Chieftain, County Roscommon
(Image: MacGBeing, reproduced with permission)
Seen as one of Northern Irish sculptor Maurice Harron‘s most experimental works, the acclaimed Gaelic Chieftain is located in the Curlew Mountains of County Roscommon. The statue overlooks the site of the Battle of Curlew Pass, which was fought in 1599 when Hugh Roe O’Donnell commanded a Gaelic Irish force to victory against an English column during the Nine Years War. Harron’s work can also be found in the UK and the US.
Keep reading – check out these Bizarre Rusty Monsters made from Recycled Scrap Metal. and explore Detroit’s Heidelberg Recycled Art Project.