Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The value of art

Instead of a walk in the countryside this Wednesday, four of us met in Gloucester, to visit the Cathedral exhibition, Crucible 2. Some of us spent more time on it than others, but there's never a shortage of things to do in Gloucester, especially on a sunny day.

100 exhibits are a lot to take in. I didn't look at them all, but one or two stood out: Kenneth Armitage's giant hand on the lawn North of the chancel; the Vulcan maquette by Eduardo Paolozzi in the crypt; William Pye's water sculpture in the South transept, to name just a few. None of these has any religious significance, so what, you may wonder, were they doing in a Cathedral exhibition?

Actually, I'm quite comfortable with the idea that our great religious buildings should be used for the widest possible range of activities. What's more vexing is the way our perception of art differs according to the monetary value placed upon it. Crucible 2 is not a selling show, but we are all aware of the astronomical prices for which contemporary works of art are sold. Indeed, security is obviously a major concern for the organizers of this exhibition, though the hordes of people going round - no wonder, when entry was free - were very far from being frisked.

My photograph juxtaposes one of the well-secured exhibits in Crucible 2 (Kate Parsons' "East West - matter of interpretation") with - in the foreground - a cheerful framed colour photograph of May Hill, left by the local Free Art Friday group for anyone to take home with them. Does this subversive placement make it a Disobedient Object, as currently on show in the V&A?

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