That Rubens Painting


Valued at £11 million, it has been offered to Tate Britain for £6 million thanks to special tax concessions.

The Tate has so far secured over £1.56 million towards acquiring the sketch, including a grant of £500,000 from The Art Fund and £300,000 from Tate members.

Urging the public to help meet the £6 million target, Starkey said: "This work is of the utmost significance to British history. The Banqueting House ceiling is the most important painting set within an architectural context in England and this sketch is the key to its composition.

"The loss of the sketch would be a fundamental betrayal of our national heritage and it is inconceivable that it move from Britain."

This sketch has been in private hands (and not on public show) for two centuries. In what manner is it going on public display elsewhere in the world a "fundamental betrayal of our national heritage"\’ In what manner is it not being on public display elsewhere in the world such?

Sigh, it\’s the usual special interest group pleading: that those with a specific interest get to pick our pockets to attain their desires. There\’s a small group who really do gain great value from looking at such drawings and they co-opt the machinery of State to get everyone else to pay for it. They\’ve already got £5 million out of the Treasury coffers, £500,000 more directly in a cash grant from the Art Fund and given their reluctance to dig into their own pockets are asking you for yet more.

Bugger \’em. Those who value said art can pay for it…if they don\’t value it as much as others in the market do then tough.

The Worst Payer

In the West End. So says the Equity president. I was thinking of a trail of unpaid bills, actors living on crusts as wages were late but no:

Mr Landis said: "Now I’m not backward in mentioning names, some people don’t like to, but I’m going to. Bill Kenwright is the worst payer in the West End, paying minimum for everything."

It seems to be that he pays the agreed union rate for the job. About which:

The accusation comes as Equity leads a campaign to improve pay in London\’s theatre land.

It wants the current basic minimum pay for actors working in the West End, of £381 per week, increased to £550.

I\’m not quite sure how they would make that stick. I realise that neither are actually very high numbers, not for the skills required in central London, but that\’s not how wages are set. There\’s a huge pool of people with those skills, all those "resting" actors. And many of them would give their eye teeth to land a regular part in the chorus of one or other of these shows.

A large supply, a limited demand: of course wages are low.

The Stallion of the South

Hmm, well:

An artist who made his name by presenting a real racehorse as a work of art was betting yesterday on his proposal for a giant horse to win a £2 million commission for an “Angel of the South” sculpture.

Mark Wallinger\’s standing white stallion will be so huge that a person will be no taller than one of its hooves. At 50 metres – 164ft or 492 hands – it will be higher than any public artwork, towering over a site bigger than 50 football pitches.

Yesterday he described his proposed sculpture as a faithful representation of a thoroughbred racehorse in all but scale, being 33 times life-size.

So, lessee. A stallion\’s penis is some 2 feet long. 33 times life size…..

OK, so visitors to England, arriving on Eurostar, will be greeted by a 66 foot prick.

Can\’t say it\’s inappropriate.

Sick, Sick, Sick.

This, from here.

No, animals do not have rights: but humans do have duties of care.

Guillermo Habacuc Vargas would really be most unfortunate if he were to meet me in a dark alley: or a well lit room come to that.

Jude Kelly

Women in the top posts will have got there on sheer flair, stamina, determination and conscientiousness.

Ms. Kelly is in one of those top posts.

Can\’t beat that old English reticence about blowing your own trumpet now, can you?

There\’s a Simple Solution Here

I wish we in the arts didn\’t have to take a penny from wealthy individuals.

Stop paying yourselves. Do it for the love of it or not at all.

Most donors are more sensitive and more intelligent than this. They are genuine enthusiasts who want to share some of their money with an arts organisation. But in return, they are given access to the people running those organisations and – however innocuously (a nod here, a word there) – they influence those very institutions. In allowing this to go on, we undermine the aim of making the arts available to all. Sooner or later, the arts and government policy-makers are going to have to opt either for diversity or for private money. Currently, we\’re pretending they can coexist. They can\’t.

Seriously, Mark Ravenhill is insisting that artistic institutions should reject money from those who would willingly offer it in favour of reliance upon money demanded at jailpoint from dustmen and nurses.

Sorry, but even the basic logic here boggles the mind.

What a Result!

Fame brings too many distractions, even the mildest affluence is the implacable enemy of creativity,

So we\’ll only actually get any creativity when artists are starving in garrets.

Quick, abolish the Arts Council!

Turkeys and Christmas

Well, this is a surprise, isn\’t it?

Arts Council England (Ace) was plunged into a crisis when 500 of the country\’s top actors passed an unprecedented vote of no confidence in the organisation over cuts it is making in grants to almost 200 theatres and music companies.

The supplicants for your and my money are hardly going to cheer when the swill trough is removed now, are they?

Mr Hewitt was told by Sam West, Alison Steadman and Caroline Quentin that hitting regional and London fringe theatres would have a damaging knock-on effect that would lead to the whole of British theatre being "starved " of plays, directors and actors.

Snigger. Cue Dr. Strangelove and the mines gap. One thing the UK is never going to have a shortage of is luvvies.

Let\’s get this straight shall we? There shouldn\’t be any taxpayer subsidy for the arts. You like it, you love it, great, get out there and do it. If you\’re not good enough to draw a large enough paying crowd to make money out of it then you\’re going to have to do it for free.  There\’s really no reason to tax the dustman and the nurse for this indoor relief for that part of the population that likes to show off.


The Mirror of the Sacred Scriptures and Paintings World Foundation

So this group are claiming that Leonardo da Vinci put into his paintings, in the same way that he used mirror writing, images that only clarified themselves when seen in a mirror.

But now a group known as The Mirror of the Sacred Scriptures and Paintings World Foundation believes that he applied the same technique to some of his best-known creations, including the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper, to conceal mysterious faces and religious symbols.

When applied to the sketch The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and Saint John the Baptist, which hangs in London’s National Gallery, the authors say the mirror image reveals the ancient Old Testament god Jahveh, who "protects the soul of the body’s vices" and wears the Vatican’s crown.

All most interesting of course and if you want to know more, try out their website. And, well, they\’re pushing a book about it all: isn\’t that amazing?

Me, I\’ll take it all with a pinch of salt, I will:


They\’ve found Darth Vader in a Leonardo sketch? Give me a break, please.


Brain Haw for the Turner Prize!

I think we should start a campaign.

The conceptual artist Mark Wallinger, otherwise known as the Dancing Bear, has won the £25,000 Turner Prize for his monumental political work, State Britain, a recreation of the one-man Parliament Square anti-Iraq war protest destroyed by Tony Blair\’s government.

Most weird that a direct copy, a stencilling almost, should win an art prize. Thus we should campaign fo the prize (and the £25,000 cheque) to be stripped from Wallinger and award to Haw. He did, after all, make the original and isn\’t that what "Art" is about? Originality?