Saturday, 6 August 2011

Art, public and commercial

In today's Guardian, Simon Hoggart tells us all about his Baltic cruise, and seeing Copenhagen's famous harbour statue: "This was paid for," he writes, "by Denmark's best-known brewer, and if it were in Britain it would be known as the Carlsberg Little Mermaid." Indeed. The evidence is there for all to witness in Cheltenham, with the placement this week of ten fibreglass horses in public places throughout the town centre. The one in my photograph, decorated by local equestrian artist Sally Lancaster, is less commercially-adorned than some. The sponsor's name is nevertheless prominent on the plinth, only hidden by the lady pushing her shopping along.

Why does promotion of art have to go so inexorably hand in hand with promotion of its patrons? It's the same story with our recent Holst statue. But not in the past. Even as recently as 1997, when Sophie Ryder's Minotaur and the Hare was purchased for its Promenade site, the donors' contributions were only quite unostentatiously acknowledged.

1 comment:

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

In another life I drove race cars (forgive me!) then sponsorship arrived big-time and changed what was a sport into an industry for travelling billboards.

I, like you Martin, see the same thing happening to art; no big sponsor = no major works of art by new artists perhaps?