Tate Hammered for “Pornographic” Exhibition

The icLiverpool website today reports on a row brewing in Liverpool over the “Bad Art for Bad People” show, a retrospective of the work of controversial artists Jake and Dinos Chapman. John Harkin tells a tale of outraged citizens and family groups. The piece at the centre of the row is two life-size figures performing sexual acts. “Dr Adrian Rogers, chairman of the campaign group Family Focus said: “Failing to impose an age limit of 18 on such a piece is highly irresponsible.” Adding, “If a child is exposed to this, it’s like them being exposed to a horror movie or hard porn.” Stacy Arnold, for the Tate replied to the allegations – “Our staff are very well trained to warn parents thinking of viewing the show of the explicit material their children may see. “If they believe it is OK for their children to view the work, then we would have no objections. “The exhibition is not a horror movie, it is very relevant art.” Read all about here Tate info here Chapman brother’s art here and here (don’t click these links if you are under the age of 18)

Welcome to the Watermill

As an antidote to the capital’s petty squabbling over the Turner Prize, it was a delight to read one couple’s story about bringing modern art to the Highlands of Scotland. Claire Sawers writes an excellent piece in today’s Times on how husband-and-wife team Kevin and Jayne Ramage opened the Watermill art gallery in the little town of Aberfeldy in Perthshire.

With work by Warhol, Patrick Heron, Barbara Hepworth, Bridget Riley, Patrick Caulfield and Barbara Rae the Ramages have created an enviable art space and, by the sound of it, a very enviable lifestyle for themselves.

Lovely to hear some positives for a change – read it here

Stuckists Bending The Truth? Surely Not…

In an article in today’s Observer, Lynn Barber tells how she was misrepresented by the Stuckists annual Turner demo as reported here on Artistica *hangs head in shame*

Apparently, whilst nipping outside for a ciggie, Barber was “horrified to be greeted enthusiastically by a crowd of demonstrators on the steps” – she goes on to say they were the Stuckists carrying placards quoting Barber as saying ‘Is it all a fix?’

Her reply was pretty unambiguous, “No! The words were taken completely out of context” – so what exactly is going on here?

Are the Stuckists running out of ammo? Their annual protest got off to a bad start for them this year when Sir Nicholas Serota posed for a photograph with Charles Thomson’s obligatory Emin’s pants picture and asked Thomson “Can’t you make another image?”

Despite being critical of Serota in the past re the Chris Offili scandal, I’m beginning to warm to the man, not so Mr Thomson whose nasty, vicious little put-downs of the Turner finalists work showed the real depth of his mean spiritedness.

I was struggling to find an analogy for the Stuckists role in 21st centurt art when, for some unknown reason, I got the image in my head of those guys that used to patrol the major city centres with a sign saying “The End is Nigh” – wierd…

Anyway, the story is here
Stuckism website here

Tomma Abts Wins Turner Prize

German born Tomma Abts last night won the 2006 Turner Prize with her 48 x 38 cm abstract paintings, writes Charlotte Higgins in today’s Guardian. Her work, described in the article thus “She uses no source material, but allows the form of the paintings to emerge as she applies layers of colour – a process that mingles disciplined severity with pure intuition” was a clear favourite with the judges leaving Phil Collins, Rebbecca Warren and Mark Titchner as the also rans.

The ceremony at Tate Britain had a touch of controversy about it as one the of the judges, Lynn Barber, complained that she had been “stitched up” by the organisers and her “enthusiasm for contemporary art “seriously dampened” after her year as a Turner panel member”.

Outside, the Stuckists held their usual protest.

Read it here

See the art here

Stuckists Up for a Fight Tonight?

Just received a press release from the Stuckists – seems they are demonstrating at the Turner Prize ceremony asking for Sir Nicholas Serota’s resignation – will be glued to my tv in case it gets nasty ;-)

I’m not overly impressed by the art – but I have not included Charles Thomson’s appraisal of the artwork as it is particularly nasty – come on Charles, they may not float your boat but they’re not murderers or pedophiles – lighten up matey – no need to be that vindictive.

Press Release:

Stuckist Turner Prize demo – “is it all a fix?”

The Stuckists will demonstrate for the 7th year running against the Turner Prize on Monday 4 December at Tate Britain.

They are calling for the resignation of Tate director, Sir Nicholas Serota, and Tate chairman, Paul Myners, after a year in which the Tate has been at its lowest ebb.

The Charity Commission ruled the Tate had acted illegally, after the Stuckists initiated an investigation into the Tate’s purchase of trustee Chris Ofili’s work, The Upper Room. (Serota said the Stuckists had “acted in the public interest”.) German police are investigating the possible illegality of the recovery payment for two stolen Turner paintings. Turner Prize jurist, journalist Lynn Barber, blew the whistle on the shambles behind the Prize itself, asking “Is it all a fix?”

Her words will be on a placard at the demo, along with her observation, “It is wrong of the Tate to suggest that the public’s views will be taken into accountâ€?, referring to the Tate’s request for public nominations for the Turner Prize.

Stuckist co-founder, Charles Thomson, said, “Serota has been at the Tate longer than Margaret Thatcher was PM and it’s time for a new face. His narrow taste leads to an impoverished collection policy that is ruining the cultural heritage of this country.

“The Turner Prize is symptomatic of all that is wrong with the Tate. It has long been a national joke. This year is worse than ever, though that hardly seemed possible after last year. The work is boring, pretentious and vacuous.”

The Stuckist demonstrations have become a well known feature of Turner Prize day, were included in the Channel 4 “20 Years of the Turner Prize” programme, and have twice been mentioned by the guest of honour before awarding the Prize (by Sir Peter Blake in 2003 and by Culture Minister, David Lammy, in 2005).

The Stuckists were founded by Thomson with 13 artists in 1999 to campaign for figurative painting and oppose conceptual art. They have since become an international movement of 153 groups in 37 countries.

Guardian article here

Contemporary Art in Cornwall

Ten out of ten for Debbie Lawson and her excellent piece on the Observer/Guardian website today on the state of art in Cornwall today.

With its well known, rich history as an artists’ haven, Cornwall is still pushing the boundries of modern art. New galleries are opening and new festivals are bringing contemporary artists to the very tip of Cornwall.

The article, which is part of the Observer travel section, takes the reader through a catalogue of all that is new and happening in West Penwith and is one of those pieces that makes me want to sell up and return to life by the sea.

I lived in St Ives in my youth and holiday in Cornwall most years – and the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden is usually one of the first places I visit, but unlike Ms Lawson I tend to miss the newer stuff, so this article has been a major wake up call for my next visit there.
If you like Cornwall and art – read it now!

“On the crest of a new arts wave” here

Facing the Rot in Modern Art

Under the title A load of rot? Sarah Jane Checkland does a both serious and quirky/humorous piece in today’s Telegraph about modern art that decays with time.

With a whole range of materials used by artists over the years being susceptible  to rot, Checkland leads us through a tale of woe as conservation departments struggle to handle this fascinating phenomenon.

I must admit I’m on the fence about some of the art she dicusses, so take a little time to read the article for yourself – well worth the effort.

Article here

Hirst’s Collection at the Serpentine

News in today’s Independent that Damien HIrst has a new exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery – showing more than 60 works from his private collection. The show, entitled In The Darkest Hour There May Be Light, features “a luminous coffin, a collage of topless models, coloured skulls and a series of Hoovers”.

Work by Francis Bacon, Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol includes Bacon’s A Study for a Figure at the Base of a Crucifixion and even a few pieces by Banksy the graffiti artist.

Quoting Michael Joo, a New York artist who has four installations in the exhibition, Arifa Akbar says “it would give an insight into Hirst’s mind.”

Until 28 January 2007

Independent story here 

Whatever Happened to the Stuckists?

After many months build up to the “Triumph of Stuckism” symposium in Liverpool, I was curious as to how the event went down. But I could find no review on the Stuckist website. So I used Google to search the site for the word triumph – this threw up eight results, one for Triumph of Stuckism and seven for Triumph of Painting, Charles Saatchi’s show.

No mention on Naive John’s website, the guy behind the symposium. No mention on Google News. No mention on John Moores University site.

Maybe it wasn’t a triumph…

Hepworth Breaks Auction Record

News today from bloomberg.com that a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth set a new auction record when her piece Ultimate Form fetched $2.6m at Sotheby’s.

This is very exciting news for me as a devotee of Hepworth’s work to see her rising through the male-dominated world of sculpture.

Picture to follow.

Bloomberg News article here

Hepworth work here