Artists are workers too! Long live the government art collection

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Headline-grabbing story in The Mirror “EXCLUSIVE: Almost £ 100,000 spent on Downing St paintings as Boris Johnson plans to cut benefits” insults and undermines artists and the artistic profession. Misinformed hacks Rachel Wearmouth and Matthew Davis deserve special mention for journalistic incompetence.

Mirror hacks Rachel Wearmouth and Matthew Davis deserve special mention for incompetence

If the couple had bothered to research what the Government Art Collection Fund was all about rather than twisting its values ​​to serve a gratuitous political angle, I wouldn’t have spilled coffee on my forehead gasping at their incompetence. A reminder: this article appears in a newspaper once edited by Piers Morgan and even more discredited by the phone hacking scandal.

The government art collection has been around for over 120 years, thanks to government and private investment. He champions British art and supports emerging and mid-career artists where it matters by buying their work. It helps artists by building their reputation at home and abroad. The works are exhibited in more than 365 buildings in 155 capitals around the world. The creation of a permanent UK museum to house works of art that are not currently on display has been discussed and advanced talks are underway.

The Mirror says: ‘Almost £ 100,000 has been spent on two paintings to adorn the walls of 10 Downing Street as Boris Johnson drew up plans to cut public sector wages and cut benefits. This is a mistake. The two works mentioned in the Mirror article were purchased as part of an initiative to strengthen culture in Northern Ireland during the 2021 centenary. The £ 70,200 spent on an untitled painting by the artist of 54 Belfast-born Cathy Wilkes would probably have been bought off anyway, as Ms Wilkes was the last British representative at the Venice Biennale. It is common for the Government Art Collection to acquire a work of the artist selected by the Biennale. The journalists appointed do not know anything about the visual arts or the art purchasing infrastructure of the public arts sector.

The Mirror said: “Last year officials spent £ 696,700 on new artwork for the government art collection to decorate Whitehall offices and UK embassies abroad, more than 60% more than the £ 432,071 spent the previous year. ” This increase is due to support for artists during the COVID crisis. The current government would have nothing to do with buying these works of art. The selection panel is made up of members of the Labor and Conservative parties and remains independent. Do your research! and get your facts straight …

And shame on journal i for copying and pasting the story in today’s edition. Originality is obviously no longer critical for this marginalized publication. – Paul Carter Robinson Artlyst Editor

Top photo: Cathy Wilkes at the Venice Biennale 2019 Photo © Artlyst

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