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Gormley and Bandwagons: Here Comes the Knight

That Wokeist bandwagon has come skidding around the corner again like Charlton Heston’s chariot with Dr Quack there holding the reins and cracking the whip across the buttocks of white stallions four abreast. As usual Banksy is trying to swing himself aboard on one side while on the other, sweating like a pig, bounces that big-mouthed Chinaman wearing a life jacket. But what is this, what have we here, there at the back covered in dust grasping at the flatbed … It’s Gormless crying “Let me on! Let me on! I’ll say anything you like but please let me on”.

And so it is that you can’t keep a good (or even a bad or an indifferent) Buddhist Media Tart down for long. Gormless has popped up, this time to give his support for returning the Acropolis sculptures to Greece. He kept his opinions to himself while he was a Trustee of the BM but now, his conscience having pricked him, oh yes, he can come clean and tell it as it is and grandstand to the Woke gallery. Curious how he seems to believe his opinion worth listening to on every subject. Of course this won’t have been anything to do with his being allowed to exhibit his toy soldiers all over a Greek island covered with classical remains. But there’s more. Being more Woke than the most ardent Wokeist, apart from shipping out Phidias (and what a second-rate sculptor he was compared to our resident lama) he wants Africa to be given prominence in the British Museum displays with a concomitant reduction in the emphasis accorded the Classical wonders of the world. As politely as they could manage, the BM told him to piss off and mind his own business.

Of course Buddhists, for whom silence is a virtue (think Grasshopper Caine in Kung Fu), are supposed not to subscribe to the sort of conceit that offers opinions on every subject. Obviously in Gormless’s case these trifles merely slipped out like drool between Om Manis while he wasn’t in full control of his mouth.

On the same subject, the April issue of Apollo, which in days gone by was a serious paper of researched historical material instead of a State Art lackey, features a long interview with Gormless. Do we really need yet another interview with him? Look at the work. Does it really warrant such continued adulation?

Damien Hirst: Another Bandwagon

Never one to miss out on a trendy bandwagon, Dick Flasher is flogging giclée prints of cherry blossoms painted with his own fair hand – he’s a dab hand at cherry blossoms is our Dick … load a big brush with pink and dab dab dab. He’s doing them as a special favour to the world at four grand a pop in exchange for crypto-currency. He’s been on to this idea, he claims, for five years. Reaching up to his full height of close to five feet, Dick announced to anyone who would listen: “It explores and challenges the concept of value through money and Art. The whole project is an artwork, and anyone who buys “The Currency” will participate in this work. It’s not just about owning it. It is the most exciting project I have ever worked on by far.” He’s a grand lad is Dick. “Challenging the concept of value through money and Art…” Well, there’s a new one.

Does anyone else notice the similarity of his statements to those by Gormless? It’s all that ‘exploring’ and ‘challenging’ … somehow it never quite rings true. You’d have to be a cretin to fall for it. [Perhaps they employ the same ventriloquist. Ed]

Manchester Wall

Concrete Doggerel

A graffito scribbled on a wall in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens is to be preserved in the art gallery. It was sprayed on a piece of ‘civic design’, also known as a long block of concrete, erected by Japanese architect Tadeo Ando, one of global State Art’s finest. [I’ve walked past that hundreds of times. I wondered what the hell it was and I didn’t miss it when they demolished it. If I’d known it was art I’d have, er, well, you know… Ed] Manchester’s male art lovers liked it so much they urinated affectionately against it while considering the subtle amplitude of its form on their way to the last bus home. As you can see above it is an architectural gem and could only have been dreamed up by the imaginative power of a stellar genius. The wall was part of a concrete ‘pavilion’ intended to ‘upgrade’ the gardens. Previously, for decades it had been an open square with geometrical pathways interspersed with flower beds. This was turned into something so instantly ugly it defied belief that anyone with eyes could possibly have approved the design. Truly, you have to see it to realise how awful it is. It was only built in 2002 and, within a matter of months, the local council were itching to demolish it. But then the same city approved in the docks a new Imperial Museum North building by Daniel Libeskind. This was not just brazenly unfit for purpose but ugly to boot. Both are classic examples of drafting in foreign architects with more interest in their careers than in what is satisfying or useful to a local population.

The council are now considering spending another £10 million in order to make Piccadilly attractive. We await what enormity arts panjandrums blackmail them with this time around. They could do a lot worse than revert to what it was before, with flowerbeds, trees and forms for people to sit on. It was unimaginative, as municipal gardening tends to be with its alternate pansies and primulas, but it wasn’t actively repellent. The ‘pavilion’, needless to say, is deemed important by the State Art mob, because  (compelling argument) it is the only work in Britain by Ando, who is considered a veritable Callicrates among 20th century builders.

The graffito, by the way, read: “The North is not a petri dish”. Crucially, this dazzling aperçu was written by a transgender person, albeit one of considerable ignorance. [Subs to fill in correct pronoun] believes the north has always been treated as backward, when of course we all know that Manchester was and still is the cradle of scientific progress. They are showing salvaged bits of the rubble in the City Art Gallery. Transgender … scrupulously artless work … an ill-informed slogan … anti-Government … the dim curators will be gagging at the prospect of exhibiting such an Abu Simbel moment in the history of modern culture.

Courtauld Galleries Renamed

Lord Professor Dr Sir Leonard Blavatnik VC GC MC OM CH CBE OBE MBE has donated £10 million to the Courtauld Gallery towards its restoration. When it reopens the galleries will be named after him; the Blavatnik Fine Rooms, which, of course, are really only ‘fine’ because of the great pictures they contain. Tate Modern’s extension is also named after him ­ – clearly his aim is a royal flush. Some people – we are not among them – don’t like Dodgy Lennie and are suspicious of his philanthropy; indeed, he has threatened action against those who so much as call him a friend of Mr Putin. According to the Guardian, who are wrong about absolutely everything, he persuaded BP to invest in Russian oil, BP eventually having to sell out because of constant harassment and obstruction. Blavatnik maintains his innocence – Moi? – in this fuss. BP’s Russian assets were bought by Rosneft, the Russian national oil and gas company, which is not in the least, in any shape or form, now or ever, a cash cow for the man who is not among Lennie’s friends.

Somewhat of a stab in the back for Samuel Courtauld, don’t ya think, who bought all those memorable pictures and gave them to us. Then, ding-a-ling, along comes someone with a bucket of plaster, a few fire doors, half a dozen sprinklers and some double glazing and it’s hard-cheese-Sam-don’t-call-us. There’s gratitude for you.

But let us make this perfectly crystal clear from the outset, and in no uncertain terms, so there can be not even a hint of a misunderstanding. At the end of the day in the final analysis the bottom line is that Lennie does not have any connection in any way shape or form, and has never met or been acquainted or done financial deals with the man whose face gets smoother every time you see it and wouldn’t dream of sanctioning the murder of Russian nationals abroad. If he passed him in the street he wouldn’t know Vlad from Adam even if he was carrying a placard with his name on it. These are malicious calumnies not to be repeated … or you might wake up one morning groaning with your balls in your mouth.

The Great Big Malteser

Our Buddhist For All Seasons is back. He couldn’t stand being sidelined any longer so he’s devised a plan for an exhibition. He’s asking people to make an ‘artwork’ and put it in their window so passers-by (during their essential weekly trips to Lidl, you understand) can look up and say ‘Oooh it’s literally one of them like artwork things innit’. “At a time when all the theatres and galleries are shut it is wonderful to somehow tap into the extraordinary reservoirs of creativity in the country and celebrate the diversity of range and thought and feelings that exist,” droned the blue-rinsed tart. “I don’t like this Greylag Perry person thing getting all the publicity. It’s not fair. I’m first me.” Reverting to his usual bollocks, he added “We want to let the inner animal out. People will find their inner animal… it could be a whale or a dinosaur.”

As an example of his own ‘inner animal’ the copiously medalled latter-day Rodin produced this, right… He rolled it into a ball all by himself.

Hockney at the Royal Academy Again and Again

There will be yet another ’Ockney exhibition at the Royal Academy from – in theory – March 27th to August 22nd. Taking in late June, as it will, the Adlestrop Specials are already being laid on, steam hissing, bees buzzing, blackbirds singing…

Can’t they really think of anything or anyone else? This latest manifestation of The Skipper is called ‘The Arrival of Spring: Normandy 2020’. Perhaps Monet will be persuaded to open the show in exchange for carte blanche at Specsavers.

The work looks appalling. It’s the sort of twee, slightly cackhanded, outlined approach to Nature you’d find hanging slightly aslant on the pegboard in a Herefordshire framer’s window.

Meanwhile, the ‘Greatest Living Painter’ (bar none) has appointed a curator from the Royal Academy as his permanent manager and personal curator. She’ll need to carry a Zippo with spare flints, thrive on passive smoking and tell whoppers of the complimentary kind he obviously likes to hear from his doting entourage.

Gong Fishing

Artists Receiving Medals

Artists awarded gongs for being artists, part 79: Christopher Le Brun was given a knighthood for heaven only knows what; Michael Landy got a CBE for whatever; Denzil Forrester got a measly MBE [He should post it back as an insult. If Landy’s worth a CBE Forrester should be in the Lords. Ed]. Architect Jimmy Chipperfield was given a CH for bland buildings i.e. doing his job. Stephen Deuchars, Art Fund boss, was also given a Sir for having, well, hung on and stuck at it. A potter called Jennifer Lee, got an OBE for services to ceramics i.e. being a potter. Her pots are very elegant and simple, but so what? The honours system in the visual arts seems to be one in which officials pick names out of a hat. If the powers are short of names of truly worthy recipients, that is, those who have worked quietly behind the scenes charitably for years and for no reward, The Jackdaw could supply a dozen names tomorrow. All are a million times more deserving than a twerp like Michael Landy. 

Why is it, for example, that those artists elected to the Royal Academy automatically qualify soon afterwards for an OBE or a CBE? Why don’t they just hand over all the letters together when they are elected and save a deal of bureaucratic paper pushing? The fact is that membership of a Gentleman’s Club on Piccadilly is the easiest way to qualify for a medal, if, that is, you are conceited enough to want one in the first place. You don’t have to do anything except turn up occasionally to use the facilities and ponce about looking important, and then, in the fullness of time, have sufficient disposable cash to rent a top hat. Those who are members of the Royal Academy may once have been special but they aren’t any more. Most, especially more recent appointees, are jobbing chancers, ten a penny, startlingly unexceptional.

A medal given to an RA is an insult to those honoured for having done something genuinely worthwhile for others.

A Line in the Sand

State Art is like a virus, it knows no boundaries and spreads like wildfire. In fact, it’s worse than a virus because once it’s arrived you can’t get rid of it because there’s seemingly no cure. And there are plenty of students actually volunteering to contract it. And national boundaries are no protection for it spreads by telepathic brainwashing. This leads to many curious anomalies. Why, for example, should peoples of different cultures and traditions, all as equally rich as our own ‘western’ one, be interested in the brand names of State Art? A good example of this is currently doing the rounds. This piece (above) by Richard Serra comprises four large slabs of metal, each 45 feet high, spread over a thousand yards of a nature reserve in Qatar. A nature reserve! How could anyone in that country believe that an Arab population could possibly see and understand this as a “breathtaking national asset”. One can only conclude that the proliferation of State Art has caused a global pandemic of acute self-delusion. The reason why East/West West/East is in the news is because it’s being cleaned of graffiti. Authorities in Qatar are appalled that locals can’t understand the sculptures’ world significance. It was unveiled in 2014 and the artist hoped it would become a landmark, as if everywhere needs a landmark. Surely this is the fate of anything at all you might plonk in an expanse of desert. 

As an addict of the sweeping non-sequitur, Serra has clearly been listening in while Gormless, occupying the next hotel room, practices in front of the mirror. He said: “I attempt to use sculptural form to make space distinct… What that piece does is give you a point of reference in relationship to a line, and your upstanding relationship to a vertical plane, and infinity, and a personal relationship to a context – and pulls that context together. It makes it graspable. That’s actually a place out there now, and there certainly wasn’t one before. We did that simply by putting up four plates.”

Talk about stating the bleeding obvious. You could make the same claim for a line of telegraph poles.

Overlooking the conceit of an artist prepared to inflict his lack of imagination on a nature reserve… was it Moore or Caro who said “More often than not sculpture spoils landscape”?

Stonehenge: Back to the Stone Age

Authorities have decided to go ahead with building a two-mile tunnel under Salisbury plain to divert the A303 which currently skirts Stonehenge: cost at today’s estimates (which are certain to increase steeply) a staggering £1.7 billion. Are we really that rich? Is this really that important? Stonehenge was once wild. In the last months of 1963 a group of schoolboys could trudge up to it from across the Plain, where it looked as windswept as in Constable’s sketches and watercolours, and touch the stones. In his Natural History of Selbourne Gilbert White records how jackdaws nested in gaps between the stones and the only other people likely to be encountered were shepherd boys ‘idling around the place’.

Now the powers see the monument as a financial opportunity to charge (£23 for adults) and to sell tat to tourists who are fenced off and kept at a distance from the circle; in short, they’ve turned it into a relative of the mass entertainment industry. These powers are the same people who want to build a tunnel under some of the world’s richest, most archaeologically sensitive areas. Are there others out there who, on the long journey out west, look forward to the sudden appearance of the great stones as a pause for thought as they speed by? One can’t help concluding that the powers don’t want the public to have a free view of the stones from the road so that they’ll have to pay to see them. They’ll soon be flogging The Stonehenge Son et Lumière Experience.

Like that other barmy and absurdly expensive project, HS2, this all seems like too much cash spent unnecessarily. But then what is money when, as is common in our current Wonderland, you can simply magic it from thin air or borrow limitless quantities of the stuff? Next stop the evacuation and levelling of Avebury village both as a nuisance to full appreciation of the stones and an opportunity to build an ‘information’ centre with a grass roof where you can buy designer chutney with a handwritten label. And what about an A4 tunnel avoiding Silbury Hill and the West Kennet long barrow? At the more impressive Bronze Age monuments at Carnak in Brittany, and the Rings of Brodgar and Stenness in the Orkneys and Callanish on Lewis, visitors can still wander for miles unimpeded. [I visited Brodgar and Stenness a few years back. This special remote place is also a haven for red hares, which forage in nearby rock pools. Some of them sit a yard high. A family of these amazing creatures approached and snuffled at my trousers while I watched whimbrels poking about the stones. Ed]

Stonehenge was more pleasing when it was just there.

Campaigners opposing the tunnel are investigating starting proceedings against the Government over the legality of interfering with a World Heritage Site.

Gormley: Behold the