Is it worth going to SEE Monster in Weston Super Mare? Here’s what we thought of the installation in our review...
The SEE Monster installation in Weston Super Mare, is one of the more contentious spends of public money on a creative art project in recent time. It’s one of ten public art installations which were opened across the country as part of the Unboxed: Creativity in the UK series. The series has reportedly cost £120 million pounds in total.
The SEE Monster project was hit by a month of delays and subject to much public ridicule locally over its cost, its delays and the fact that when it’s windy in Weston, the top deck is closed to visitors.
So is it worth the cost and the subsequent media storm? Whilst the cost is contentious, the installation itself is surprisingly good. We went on a Tuesday morning during term time to avoid lengthy weekend queues. The accessibility was good for neurodivergent people, there are toilets and a disabled toilet on site as well as a lift taking people from platform to platform.
SEE Monster itself is a retired North Sea rig. After being brought to Weston Super Mare by sea, extensive work was carried out to enable it to be accessible to the public. Its features are all about promoting thought on reusing and repurposing, climate change, weather, biodiversity and green technologies. But if that’s all a bit on the serious side, this is simply a fabulous bit of physical and immersive art and entertainment that will appeal to many people.
When we visited, I assumed our trip would last about half an hour, so after timing it, I was surprised to find it stretched to 1.5 hours in length. It would have been easily possible to stay up to two hours with the incredible and mesmerising views stretching across Wales and the South West. But you’d definitely want to go on a weekday during good weather to get that more chilled experience.
Other than the ground looking up, there are three levels to experience. The first immerses you in a fine spray of mist and cloud – at short intervals. The second is almost like an air garden. The third, the helipad, offers the most spectacular views across the country. On the clear day we went, you could see for miles. There is a tube slide connecting the top level to the middle level, which was quiet during our visit but likely to be busy on weekends. The BBC Shipping Forecast is also broadcast on the top deck, the crisp RP voice creating a slightly vintage other worldly feel.
SEE Monster is open from 9am until 9pm, but last entry is at 8pm. It’s worth checking their website before visiting in case the viewing platform is temporarily closed due to the weather in Weston.
Visiting in the evening is an entirely different experience, with the installation lit up in the night sky.
So is SEE Monster worth the money it’s cost tax payers? It’s completely free to enter and there’s no commercial attempt to take cash from you at all, which is rather nice. In this respect, it’s brilliant that something that can offer a lot of fun for a good portion of time is completely free. The real shame is that it has to be dismantled so soon – it closes on the 05 November 2022.
However, for the town of Weston Super Mare, it’s likely to have benefited the local economy long after the end of the summer season. Visitors are clearly coming from out of town to experience the installation. The numbers of people interested in SEE Monster proves there is a strong, continuing thirst for public art no matter how contentious the cost. It seems Weston Super Mare is also starting to claim its position as a contender in the arts, theatre and culture world.
SEE Monster is absolutely worth the trip, the queues and the visit. There’s something for everyone to enjoy at this quirky and brilliant bit of art, too soon to be washed away again.
You can see the SEE Monster drone show from 01/09/2022 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_IxJNP4TH8&t=2s
And 30/08/2022 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDMyfHIrfZs&t=11s
For more information about SEE Monster, visit: https://seemonster.co.uk/