I was surprised recently to read an article about the campaign to stop Love Locks being added to bridges in Paris.
The padlocks, engraved or bearing a written message of love between two people, are locked on to bridges around the city. The locks originated on the Pont des Arts and Pont de l’Archevêché but have spread to many picturesque river spots in the city, with an estimated 700,000 Love Locks in place.
The gesture of attaching a lock and throwing away the key as a symbol of unbreakable love has become a bone of contention as a love/hate war breaks out between the romantics and the campaigners.
The ‘Free Your Love, Save Our Bridges’ message is being spearheaded by two American ladies, Lisa Anselmo and Lisa Taylor Huff, who feel the locks have become an eye sore on beauty spots. The campaigners, who both live in Paris, are not feeling the love for this particular style of gesture and are calling for a ban, labelling Love Locks as an “epidemic” which amounts to vandalism. They hope to reclaim the historic bridges to allow people to fall in love with the beauty of the view, not the rusting locks.
I was in Liverpool last weekend and took some photos of the Love Locks on the Albert Dock because it’s the first time I’d really noticed any in the UK. The padlocks are chained to railings along the waterside and have been building up slowly. While it’s nowhere close to the scale of the locks attached to the Pont des Arts, I found the locks really interesting and was moved by some of the heartfelt engravings.
It’s not solely a wall of fun for couples spontaneously buying a lock and scrawling over it with a marker pen to be part of a craze. Many of the locks were engraved with tributes to loved ones; clearly they were locked with dignity, ceremony and deep meaning to the key holder. I would imagine that the families who took the time to create this public tribute would be heartbroken to think they could be removed for impacting upon the river view – in the event such a campaign gathered momentum in the UK.
Should that make a difference or are the Parisian campaigners right? Should beauty spots be left to be enjoyed in their natural state because the locks are spoiling the view and, in the case of the Pont des Arts, in danger of becoming so heavy that they damage the structural integrity of a bridge?
I can see both sides of the argument. From a distance the beauty of a location like the Pont des Arts is compromised by a wall of multi-coloured locks and messages but when you pick out one individual lock, hold it in your hand and read someone’s personally written message, would you have the heart to remove it?
- You can see more about the official campaign here – No Love Locks