We arrived back from our holiday in Russia last Thursday and had a couple of days in London visiting three exhibitions. (Reviews of these and of Moscow and St Petersburg later.)
On Friday, on the way back to the hotel, I picked up a free copy of London Evening Standard. I realise that it was the last day of the working week and people would want different content from the ‘normal’ working days but I was delighted by the coverage of the visual arts and other cultural news.
On the next page there was a short item about Damien Hirst putting a red nose on 50 signed prints of his £50 million diamond skull to raise money for Comic Relief. The prints will be sold for £2500 each. Hirst said it was “good to be able to laugh at myself.” Damien, people have been laughing at you and your work for years!
On page 21 was an article headlined “British Museum event celebrates London diversity” which had a number of photographs of big-wigs standing round with glasses of wine in their hands. One paragraph caught my eye:
“Ugandan-Asian-born author Yasmin Alibhal-Brown, who is writing a book on Exotic England, told how Elizabeth I was so welcoming to Algerian and Moroccan ambassadors that the Pope denounced her for being too fond of “infidels”.”
There was an interesting item on page 33 about “art inspired by Wyman photos”. (There is a View Gallery button.) A show (“Bill Wyman – Reworked” at Rook & Raven, Rathbone Place, W1) has been organised of art works by artists, including Gerald Scarfe, James Myline and Pam Glew, based on photographs of the Rolling Stones and Jerry Hall by Bill Wyman.
In the London Life section there were five popular exhibitions listed (Lichtenstein, Manet etc.) but next to this listing was a small item about Adel Abdessemed – Le Vase Abominable, at the David Zwirner Gallery. Having complained previously about the Telegraph only being interested in and over-egging popular exhibitions, I was pleased to see this.
There were many other articles about music, theatre and cinema, but the final item I want to mention is, apparently, an on-going series on the letters page. It was headed “Exhibits for the fantasy museum” and included a suggestion by Ivan Massow, former chair, Institute of Contemporary Arts:
“We all know about the evil nutters who shaped our world. But what about all the reasonable people who defended unreasonable and oppressive practices because they genuinely believed in them? In the fantasy museum I’d have a long corridor papered from floor to ceiling with pages from Hansard, displaying speeches in defence of slavery, war, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, child labour, gender discrimination, Section 28 … Walking along, you’d be accompanied by a soundtrack of different voices up to the present – ordinary, sensible people defending the indefensible. These uncomfortable truths would remind us just how far we’ve come, and how we should never take anything for granted.”