If you’ve been to Liverpool this year you can’t have missed the superlambananas:

There are about 100 of them scattered around the city in a variety of colours and decorations, one of the many ways the city is marking Liverpool – capital of culture 2008 . The sculptures just beg to be photographed, and on a recent visit to Liverpool I got a bit carried away. I won’t inflict them all on you but a collage is below, with a link to my mini-collection on Flickr (I only got about 15 of the beasties).
I enjoyed the sense of fun, colour and creativity that these sculptures showed – there was a bronze one in front of the Walker Art Gallery and one made up to look like a dinosaur in front of the World Museum (which covers natural history amongst other things). And adjacent to a fitness centre there was even one on a bicycle (sadly not on a unicycle).
What better place then than Liverpool to host the British Association’s Festival of Science – the annual science jamboree? Science shown to be part of our culture, in a city having fun. All the associations are positive, no?
Well, I thought so but then I happened to read a small detail about the origin of the superlambanana . It was created to warn of the dangers of genetically modified food. Something about a cross between a lamb and a banana, you see. (Quite a revolting mixture of tastes I would have said!).
So, an apparently harmless bit of fun turns out to originate as anti-GM propaganda. It’s somewhat ironic therefore that Sir David King’s address at the BA Festival included a complaint about “anti-science and anti-technology attitudes that lead to organic farming rather than GM“. I wonder if he knew that
very close to him were 100 sculptures bearing witness to those anti-science attitudes!
Here is my collage (click to see them separately on Flickr):
Superlambanana collage
If you really want to see all 100 superlambananas, the Liverpool Echo collection of photos does the trick.

About Frank Norman

I am a librarian in a biomedical research institute. I've been around a few years, long enough to know that exciting new things fall into the same familiar patterns. I'm interested in navigating a path for libraries as we move further from print to electronic resources to open research, and become more embedded in research workflows.
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16 Responses to Superlambananas

  1. Matt Brown says:

    Still, peelable sheep would be a boon to the wool industry.

  2. Sara Fletcher says:

    I’ve seen something similar in Bilbao, only there it was cows, some decorated by artists, others by local community groups. They were great, whimsical designs, often location specific (my favourite was one outside an opticians reading a sight test saying “Moo!” in different sizes) and it was great fun spotting them.
    Regarding the anti-GM message, I wonder how many of those who see the superlambananas are aware of the underlying meaning? I’ve seen them on the news but I didn’t know they were anti-GM, I reckon it’s probably lost on most people!

  3. Frank Norman says:

    Sara – I seem to remember Milton Keynes had some cows too?
    Yes, I rather suspect you are right that the underlying message is not obvious to most people.

  4. Cath Ennis says:

    Vancouver got orcas, followed by bears, while Toronto had moose a few years back. Nothing like regional stereotypes, eh?

  5. Kristi Vogel says:

    The regional stereotypes continue in the US Southwest, with Houston and Santa Fe.
    I have to admit that I really do enjoy seeing them, though.

  6. Henry Gee says:

    I think lamb and bananas might go together quite well, if done right.
    Cromer has its crabs. Naturally.

  7. Sara Fletcher says:

    Orcas? I’m jealous! We don’t get them in Oxford.

  8. Graham Steel says:

    I think lamb and bananas might go together quite well, if done right.
    Lamb Banana Curry
    Gosh, that looks interesting. I can almost smell this.
    More of the same over at Great Recipies Weekly

  9. Cath Ennis says:

    And I thought it was only my Mum who put banana (sliced, with dessicated coconut sprinkled on top) on her curries. Which always contain sultanas for some reason…

  10. Richard P. Grant says:

    AGH! Honky curry alert! Memories of Vesta and 70s flock wallpaper!
    Run! Save yourselves!

  11. Cath Ennis says:

    Honky and proud!
    BTW, here is Orca Presley, who used to live outside Virgin records on Robson Street:

    Full gallery here

  12. Cath Ennis says:

    Gaah that worked in preview. Here’s a link instead

  13. Frank Norman says:

    I thought Orcas were something out of Tolkien? Those Vancouver ones look like fish to me, though there is a touch of the banana in them too.
    All those cows, ponies, moose etc are a bit ornery. I think Liverpool wins on grounds of scientific adventurousness (plant / animal hybrid).
    Lamb & banana curry? Sorry, it still doesn’t do it for me. I could see lamb and plantain working (or perhaps goat and plantain).

  14. steffi suhr says:

    Sorry Frank, I have some more: it’s cows in Denver as well, and here in Lueneburg, Germany, we have oversized smelt (used to be a big trade here, a few hundred years ago). A bit further north in Hamburg, it’s a guy carrying water – a character from a local story. What is it with all those decorated figures? Are there hidden messages in all of those? (Is this a global conspiracy?)

  15. Heather Etchevers says:

    CowParade has been going on for 10 years now. I have the impression of seeing brightly colored cows everywhere I go. Bananas will be a nice change. Toulouse, where I live, is one of the shortlisted cities for 2013. Talk about planning ahead!

  16. Cath Ennis says:

    Calling them Killers tends to be bad for the whale watching business.

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