Sunday, August 21, 2011

We're paying for this?

I'd never heard of the Government Art Collection (GAC) before, but apparently in the past they'ver managed to buy up (with our money) 13,000 works of art by British artists in a variety of media including paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photographs, textiles and video works, from the sixteenth century to the present day.
Artists represented in the collection include John Constable, William Hogarth, Lucian Freud, Paul Nash, Barbara Hepworth, Michael Landy, Bridget Riley, Emma Kay and Zarina Bhimji. And I suppose that because some of those have stood the test of time well and increased in value it could be considered a valuable resource, other than the fact that the government is unlikely ever to sell these things.
Telegraph.
If the art works hanging on a wall reflect the frame of mind of the residents, the current mood within Downing Street appears to be a mixture of gloom and dry humour.
Among the new works recently hung in the Prime Minister's official residence is Grim's Ditch, a dark, some might say depressing painting depicting a muddy, waterlogged ditch.
The enamel and oil on aluminium work by the contemporary artist Clare Woods, was bought for £11,985 by the Government Art Collection (GAC), which supplies art for ministerial offices.
At first glance, two other works resemble a pair old newspapers – Financial Times: Billboard Wednesday, September 17 1986 and The Wall Street Journal: Billboard Saturday, July 15, 1985 – by Conrad Atkinson. But on closer inspection, they appear to hint at a sense of humour within Downing Street.
The lithographs, which cost £4,500 for the pair, are spoof versions of the newspapers, with headlines that include: "Premier Thatcher declares new campaign to send intellectuals into the countryside for re-education", "Sir Geoffrey Howe introduces Foucault texts on the nature of power & culture to a packed house," and "Kinnock and Raphael in bust-up about the meaning of beauty."
Another work recently purchased for the GAC includes the abstract work Fireeye Elevator by the artist Michael Stubbs.
The picture features a series of swirls and streaked lines, and came with a £9,500 price tag. It is made from household paint and tinted floor varnish.
Amid a stalling economy, public spending cuts and the threat of another recession, the Government might be expected to tighten its belt when decorating the walls of Whitehall.
But figures obtained by The Sunday Telegraph reveal that the GAC has cost more than half a million pounds in the last year.
George Osborne, the Chancellor, has decorated his office with an etching by Grayson Perry, the cross-dressing artist, aptly titled Print for a Politician.
It depicts a battle scene with warring tribes carrying labels such as "provincials", "agnostics" and "homosexuals".
The office of Ed Vaizey, the Culture Minister, is decorated with a cartoon entitled The Mystery of British Culture by Adam Dant, and two prints by Tracey Emin, Margate 1 Sand and Still Love You Margate.
The Government spent £541,000 on the GAC in the last year, and has faced criticism for continuing to purchase art, despite the economic downturn.
Most places of work don't spend their profits on art, only the public sector seem to have this self aggrandisement going on with raids on the public purse to decorate their offices and buildings with (so called) art work that frequently costs thousands of pounds and all coming from the taxpayer. In a time of austerity for all (supposedly) the government should not be wasting money on buying up cheap tat called art only because it has a thousand pound bill attached.
This is an area where savings could be made, in fact there are lots of areas where savings could be made, but yes, this is one of the more obvious ones. No, this isn't a tilt at modern art either, like with a lot of things, I know what I like and most modern art, particularly that which seeks to make some sort of political point leaves me cold, but there are some pieces I like too. That said, I wouldn't waste my money on any of them nor do I see any reason for the government to waste my money on them either.
Museums and art galleries often have "spare" stuff in storage, the government could request some of that to be displayed in government buildings if they want some new decor.

4 annotations:

Twenty_Rothmans said...

Zarina Bhimji

Is your keyboard fucked?

I work for a company which _did_ invest in art, when it was a highly-successful merchant bank. The works decorated the boardroom and offices of the chairman, the senior directors and partners.

These reflected the immense sums of money being made, and served to impress visitors and potential clients.

Alas, those days are gone along with those of the working liquid lunch. Quite why politicians need to impress anybody is beyond me.

Quiet_Man said...

What private companies do with their profits is up to them, what the government does with my money is open season to me.
I don't know who Zarina Bhimji is either, just the government bought some of his/her stuff.

Captain Haddock said...

"Museums and art galleries often have "spare" stuff in storage, the government could request some of that to be displayed in government buildings if they want some new decor" ...

They could also borrow items from the Royal Collection, at no cost .. because, as Her Majesty has often reminded us .. she merely holds
such items "in trust for the nation" ..

Harry Hook said...

Oh come on... They've got to have something to look at... as they drink all that expensive wine... courtesy of the taxpayer.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13386948