TAITMAIL   British Council cuts: ‘An act of wilful self-harm’

TAITMAIL British Council cuts: ‘An act of wilful self-harm’

The UK’s soft power pre-eminence, the British Council reported in 2019, “is vital for its post-Brexit future”. But the cuts to the BC’s operations announced this week will significantly disempower us, said our former national security advisor Lord Ricketts: “I find this completely perverse”.

ACE’s priority places for 2030

ACE’s priority places for 2030

Arts Council England has announced 54 places across England as part of its latest ten year delivery plan to implement its Let’s Create strategy, published today.

Rattle's head to aid musicians

Rattle's head to aid musicians

Conductor Sir Simon Rattle has had his portrait sculpted by artist Frances Segelman, completed from start to finish during a fundraising event for the charity Help Musicians.

Nadine Dorries made culture secretary

Nadine Dorries made culture secretary

Oliver Dowden has been moved from the culture portfolio in the Cabinet reshuffle to be the cabinet office minster in place of Michael Gove, the new housing minister.

Getting it together - in the garden on top of a Tube station

Getting it together - in the garden on top of a Tube station

The roof of Temple Underground Station, between the Thames and The Strand, is to come to blazing life of colour for the first time in its 150 year history.

‘Creative industries failing minorities’ – Bull report

‘Creative industries failing minorities’ – Bull report

The creative sector needs to be transformed if it is to be truly inclusive, according to a new parliamentary report.

Soft power front blunted by ‘perverse’ British Council closures

Soft power front blunted by ‘perverse’ British Council closures

Britain’s efforts to use culture to influence the world post Brexit and the pandemic is to be severely cut back with the British Council “significantly reducing its operations” to cut costs because of the impact of Covid.

MY STORY    Taking new music out of its niche

MY STORY Taking new music out of its niche

Tim Williams, artistic director of Psappha

As the Manchester-based classical music ensemble Psappha, which specialises in modern classical music, marks its 30th birthday its founder Tim Williams has announced he is standing down as artistic director. Described by its patron Mark-Anthony Turnage as “one of the most important - and most capable - ensembles in the world”, its anniversary tour will see it playing in London, Cambridge, Halifax and Sheffield and of course Manchester, as well as Italy and the United States.

GOOD PRACTICE GUIDE   Allowing theatres to breathe again

GOOD PRACTICE GUIDE Allowing theatres to breathe again

Philip Dowds is the founder and director of OKTO Technologies and OKTOair that specialise in smart buildings and air cleaning technology. Here he explains how theatres and concert halls can quickly be made safe again

Doran steps down at RSC to nurse terminally ill Sher

Doran steps down at RSC to nurse terminally ill Sher

Gregory Doran is stepping down temporarily as artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company to take compassionate leave as he cares for his husband, the actor Sir Anthony Sher, who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

AI PROFILE   The drumbeat of creativity in the fourth industrial revolution

AI PROFILE The drumbeat of creativity in the fourth industrial revolution

Dr Paul Thompson, vice-chancellor, Royal College of Art

ACE/BBC commission disabled artists

ACE/BBC commission disabled artists

Arts Council England has launched five commissions in partnership with the BBC that celebrate the work of deaf, disabled and neurodivergent artists about living through the Covid-19 lockdown.

Shelley Warren steps down at Arts Foundation

Shelley Warren steps down at Arts Foundation

Shelley Warren has resigned after 22 years as director of the Arts Foundation to pursue a musical archive project.

Artists notch £100m from resale rights

Artists notch £100m from resale rights

Artists and their estates have passed the £100m mark in resale right royalties since the Artists’ Resale Right became law 15 years ago

‘Why aren’t tech bosses sponsoring us?’ asks V&A’s Hunt

‘Why aren’t tech bosses sponsoring us?’ asks V&A’s Hunt

Tristram Hunt, director of the Victoria & Albert Museum, has criticised tech giants for not supporting cash-strapped museums and galleries.

Purcell Room reopens as contemporary hub

Purcell Room reopens as contemporary hub

The Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room is to reopen on September 16 after an 18 month refurbishment.

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM   Image of the month

THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the month

Derby Day, Epsom, 1939; tipster Prince Monolulu by Frank Rust for the Daily Mail

MY STORY 	Finbar Conran and Oscar Mitchell

MY STORY Finbar Conran and Oscar Mitchell

Fels is an online gallery and store created by two artists, Finbar Conran (right in our picture, grandson of the late Terence Conran, founder of Habitat and of the Design Museum) and Oscar Mitchell, who met at art school. With Jan Henzel Studio they are presenting an exhibition, Against the Grain, exploring contemporary design. It is at the Copeland Gallery in Peckham from September 22-26 and is part of the London Design Festival

Women sculptors take limelight

Women sculptors take limelight

The largest showing of the work of women sculptors – 50 of them - spanning 75 years including work by Barbara Hepworth, Helen Chadwick and Sarah Lucas, is to go on a national tour through the autumn and winter.

Colette Bailey goes to WOW

Colette Bailey goes to WOW

Colette Bailey, artistic director and CEO of Metal Culture, is to be the new executive director of Women of the World (WOW), the charity set up by Jude Kelly in 2010 to set up festivals and events across the world.

Blue plaque for Kenneth Clark

Blue plaque for Kenneth Clark

Kenneth Clark, at 30 the youngest director of the National Gallery and best known for his television series Civilisation, has had a commemorative blue plaque unveiled in his honour.

Birmingham invited to join in biggest dance fest

Birmingham invited to join in biggest dance fest

For the first time in two years, Birmingham’s annual celebration of contemporary dance returns live in September, this time with an invitation to the public to take part in the city’s streets, squares and public spaces.

First female soccer stars remembered – in dance

First female soccer stars remembered – in dance

A historic moment for female footballers is being commemorated in the town of the game’s first great team - in dance.

Rare Bailey 60s images to feature in Photo London

Rare Bailey 60s images to feature in Photo London

Rarely seen images by the chronicler of 60s fashion and the fashionable, David Baley, are to be part of Photo London, the annual photographic festival.

Populism or kitsch – does it matter?

I don’t know why anyone should be surprised that when the nation was asked what its favourite work of art was the nation overlooked Turner, Constable, Gainsborough and even David Hockney and pointed to Banksy.

The national poll was conducted by Samsung among 2,000 people who were offered a long list compiled by a panel of art critics. The exercise, as you might have guessed, is a not very sophisticated marketing exercise to go with the company's new television set, The Frame, which has 100 images of works of art pre-loaded for users to pick from as their screen-saver, rather than have a blank screen when the thing is switched off.
 
We’re not told who the critics were or what was on the longlist, but the top 20 that Banksy’s most familiar daubing, Balloon Girl, tops are images no-one doesn’t know. The second choice is Constable’s The Haywain and he would have rejoiced to know that he had not only beaten his garrulous old rival Turner but that Jack Vettriano’s The Singing Butler pushed The Fighting Temeraire into fourth.
 
So the art critics had decided to go for populism in their long list, and included album covers (Peter Blake’s Sgt Pepper was eighth, and 20th is the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks cover by Jamie Reid). There is no Tracey Emin or Damien Hirst, but Anish Kapoor’s odd Olympic helter-skelter ArcelorMittal Orbit makes it at 16.
 
The question is almost “What birthday card images did you get this year”: it’s within an ace of kitsch, many art critics who were not on the panel would say, and maybe some who were.
 
Forget the fact that postcards, posters and prints of Balloon Girl have sold in their many thousands all over the world, and one version painted on the back of a picture frameboard was sold at auction for £73,000, this is street art. The image first appeared as a piece of guerrilla art on Waterloo Bridge in 2002, and the new democratisation of art had begun.
 
There’s nothing wrong with populism, Rembrandt, Hogarth and Durer would have starved to death if they hadn’t printed versions of their masterpieces for mass consumption, and where I live every street seems to be brightened by a very well executed mural, an initiative of the local art gallery. One of the most controversial and ultimately most successful actions of Blair’s first government was to make all national galleries and museums free to enter, with the problem now being how the institutions cope with the sudden upsurge in visitor numbers.
 
It turns out that people genuinely love art, it doesn’t matter how they come upon it, and the trend is spreading from the visual to the active, with free street performances of dance, theatre and especially circus being offered officially wherever money can be raised to pay for it.
 
You may not like Maggi Hambling’s Scallop on Aldeburgh beach or Antony Gormley’s Angel of North guarding the AI at Gateshead, but a lot of people who know what they like do.
 

 

 

 

 

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