Who is Buying the Art?

Can someone explain this a little more to me?

In 2004/05, MoD civil servants bought a set of paintings by Zil Hoque called Nimbus I, II, III, IV at a cost of £160,000.

They also bought a set of four paintings by Louise Cattrell – Eyrie, Aerial, Tempest and Keep – that cost £72,000, all excluding VAT.

Now, I could understand there being a central art budget, one which is then apportioned out to the various departments. Justified perhaps by saying that something has to hang on the walls and why not support modern art while we\’re about it? That wouldn\’t be a justification in my eyes of course, but I can see how it would pass muster with those making the rules.

Is that actually what is the case?

Might I suggest something a little cheaper? I\’m told that all museums have vastly more art than they can actually show: they\’ve got basements full of stuff that never sees the light of day. Why not simply sprinkle some of that on the walls for the delectation of our servants: we\’ll keep the cash for ourselves, thanks very much.

6 thoughts on “Who is Buying the Art?”

  1. It’s actually worse than that. If you, the members of a military mess, buy something for that mess – a picture of a famous or even recent battle, for example, and then you are re-organised, all the good stuff goes into the central govt storage pot.

    We try, very hard, not to let that happen to the laid-down booze!

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    May I suggest that one reason may be that it is very hard to boff a long dead artist.

    Not impossible, but I suspect those sort of people rarely work for the MoD.

    Ditto for cousins and the nice but dim boy you went to Eton with.

  3. There is the Government Art Collection:

    but Ministers and Embassies cherrypick the best items.

    The Houses of Parliament have their own collections as well. As doubtless do the other UK Parliaments.

    This story was first covered in 2005:


    Note the spokesman’s comment about dead Admirals from the C19th – do we still have any live ones?

    It is entirely reasonable to purchase quality contemporary art for HQ Buildings for future generations to inherit: the alternative would be those dreadful Monet reproductions found in run-of-the-mill Civil Service offices.

    To say that £250,000 chould be better spent on other items is flawed when each Typhoon costs £60 million and each Apache £40 million. Neither are suitable for the present COIN war Afghanistan. They are the military equivalent of a farmer taking sheep to market in the back of a Rolls-Royce.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *