As a practising artist with an appreciation of abstract and certain examples of conceptual art - even though my own style remains representational and in certain aspects of my work, traditional - I really must comment on some of the latest self-indulgent exercises in impudence with regard to 'Art'.
The Arts Council in Wales, for example, has given painter Brendan Stuart Burns £20,000 to stop teaching for 12 months to give him time 'to make mistakes'. They said he was 'grappling with concept of thing-ness! What a load of old codswallop! The same quango also gave dancer Gareth Clark £24,894 to 'put himself in a place of contemplation and reflection'. So what did he do with the money? He walked across the 645ft Transporter Bridge in Newport and then 'reflected' that he was afraid of heights! And writer Richard Gwynn has been given £25,000 to tour Latin America in search of 'poets and wanderers'.
I think I'll apply for a grant from this Arts Council to 'look out of my studio window from time to time to check whether the river is still wet'. I don't want to appear greedy, so £15,000 will do.
Next month Christie's will be holding its Post-war and Contemporary Art Sale in London and one of the artworks on sale will be Martin Creed's 'Work No127:The Lights Going On And Off'. The expected price: A mere £70,000. Now what will the lucky (or, in my opinion, brain dead) purchaser get for his money? I should first explain that the original concept won the Turner Prize in 2001. Then it was entitled 'Work no 227:The Lights Going On And Off' and consisted of an empty room with lights going on an off every five seconds. The work being auctioned at Christie's has one incredibly creative difference - this time the lights will go on and off every thirty seconds. Wow! And what will the purchaser go away with? An empty room? Light bulbs? A nice new light socket?
. This is a switch in the 'Off' position.
And this is a switch in the 'On' position.
No. The purchaser will get none of these things. But he will receive 'a certificate of authenticity' signed by the artist. Now who is kidding who? The original 'work' No: 227 was subsequently bought by the Tate Gallery for more than £100,000. I don't know what the current owner of work no 127 paid for his work but I'm told the artist is regarded as one of the leading conceptual artists in the country. Other works have included a sheet of A4 paper scrunched up into a ball, a lump of kneaded Blu-Tack stuck on a wall, and athletes running through the galleries of Tate Britain.
One of the other works in the upcoming art sale on July 1st is Tracy Emin's unmade bed - expected to fetch £1million for current owner Charles Saatchi.
If these 'artworks' are supposed to be 'cool' then I'm completely out of touch as I regard them as pretentious overpriced junk. However I think I'll send an entry to the Turner Prize committee next year. It's my latest bit of painting and is entitled 'The unpainted screw on the hinge on the shed door'.