Serpentine Gallery: the black art of hushing it up

Most readers will be unfamiliar with Bolton and Quinn Ltd, a company which is the subject here. Invisible to the public at large, they operate in a murky hinterland between major galleries and the media encouraging positive coverage of State-approved art. One definition of State Art might simply cite a list of B&Q’s clients, for all the major promoters of Contemporary Art use them as lobbyists, from the Tate to the Arts Council to the Art Fund … and the Serpentine.

I’ve always wondered what service this company provides for the galleries who pay them, because all the bodies they represent also employ extensive in-house PR departments. If the Tate’s press office (currently comprising twelve members) is so pisspoor that they have to call on additional expertise then surely they should employ people of a higher calibre in the first place. All the organisations prominent in pleading poverty wastefully employ two press offices.

So what extra-special purchase does contracting B&Q give to those who pay them? I can now call on personal experience to answer this. The last two editorials of The Jackdaw concerned the publicly funded Serpentine Gallery and its two directors who are overpaid by 100% compared to staff in equivalent positions elsewhere. link Before Christmas a newspaper was about to trail the Jackdaw’s last editorial and expose the ‘charitable’ 67% and 47% pay increases awarded to the Serpentine’s two co-directors. A reply to these charges from the gallery was considered beyond the capacity of their own media team (all five of them, including a Head of Communications and a Head of Media Relations), whom one can only conclude must be muttonheads. Instead, they called in the household cavalry to charge the cannon. B&Q put their expensive hair-dos together and came up with a riposte so feeble it made