Briefs from Issue 18
by Jasmine Grindstone
The BBC are currently working on a new series called The Great Art Adventure in which a group of actors, pretending to be philistines, are shuttled to exhibitions all over the country. In the drama, which is given an authentic "fly on the wall" treatment, they are deprived of sleep and shown hundreds of pieces over a period of two weeks. They are also introduced to dozens of artists who are played by look-alikes.
The central role will be taken by a weighty, bluff Liverpudlian (best known to TV viewers as "Cracker's Boss", or "The Bloke Who's In Roughnecks As Well").
At the beginning of the drama he takes the position that modern art is bollocks but after two weeks he touchingly concedes: "You have to keep an open mind". The taste of the group is defined by which artist Cracker's Boss happens to get on with and whether or not he (or sometimes she) likes a laugh and can handle a drink. There is also high drama when the bull necked scouse locks antlers with old Etonian Anthony Gormley, who is constructing a public art piece in the London Borough of Cramley. The structure is one mile high and has its own internal weather system, rather like Speer's proposed dome in Berlin or the unrealised statue of Alexander. The group turn nasty at the point at which Gormley explains that the head of the shadow will reach as far as St Paul's in the neighbouring Borough. "What about the poor sods in the flats?" they protest and start to throw pieces of grassy dirt at him. Gormley defends himself with a copy of his new monograph, shouting defiantly "you'll be in deep shit when E H Gombrich gets to hear about this".
They are more sympathetic toward a social security assessor from Weybridge who has devoted his life to making sculptures of garden gnomes. His homoerotic tableau vivant of "Gnome Karma Sutra" was a particular hit.
"Gnomes are rebellious and sexy, they don't take shit from nobody and neither do I..... I've sent slides of my work to all the major Galleries in London, and even put stamps on some of the envelopes, but still I'm not regarded as a major artist by anyone other than myself and, until today, you". The group make a unanimous decision to take the whole house, brick for brick, back to Liverpool with them (including the artist's aged mother in a bath chair).
The final episode of this 24 part drama ends with the group, glassy eyed and stupefied by the vast panoply of British Contemporary Art, giving a solid recantation of their past opinions. "We've seen the error of our ways. We see now that art is good for us all, we should have more of it and it should be paid for out of the public purse. We should sequester the assets of the monarchy and build a Palace of Art in every large town and city in Britain." The drama will be aired in September 1996 and will be followed by a programme hosted by Anneka Rice in which Mancunian comedian Bernard Manning is asked to take up "The Racist, Sexist Challenge".
The nominees for the first biannual Qwik-Fitt Ar t Prize have been announced. I'm having trouble with the envelope; they are: Valerie Volume. Giles Compton-Binightly. Teresa Tone. Jonathan Solo.
The four nominees have constructed site specific work in the foyers of the following Qwik-Fitt outlets:
The works will be on display until February 31st.