The Maggi Hambling sculpture celebrating the life and work of Mary Wollstonecraft is truly problematic. I celebrate the decision to go with a challenging, thought provoking piece of work, the alternative it appears would have been another bland, safe wax work from the likes of Martin Jennings. So in theory, the choice of an artist capable of producing a meaningful contemporary monument was a brave one. So it's a plus, well no, unfortunately this is simply a really bad piece of sculpture, truly a third rate effort. I fear the response to this work will feed into the mannequin minded and challenging works are going to find it harder to get a place on the plaza! There you go, I have just had a notification that a crowd fund raiser is being organised to raise 15,000 pounds for a Jennings jobbie to be erected on another site, well begger the bourgeois, this is another bad week for public art.
Grayson Perry made the news last week, well intentioned thoughts that produced instant uproar in some quarters of the art world. If you are a national treasure your perusals will always attract attention, and frankly Grayson has a glorious reputation for courting controversy. In an interview Grayson stated " I think every part of life has probably got a bit of fat that needs trimming, a bit of dead wood.......It's awful that the cultural sector has been decimated but I think some things needed to go....... Too often, the audience for culture is just the people making it.......exhibitions put on to impress other curators..." Well I certainly know where Grayson is coming from, and some sympathy with the views expressed, it just seems a little crass to hitch your views about the contemporary artworld to the coronavirus wagon. The pandemic mainly wipes out the poor, those at the bottom the ladder, the well heeled are holed up safely in their country retreats or ivory towers. The dead wood that needs a prune isn't on the shady lower branches of the tree but on the well established growth at the top, basking, bankrolled, in the sunshine. Grayson has since attempted to clarify his thoughts but they're out there now, it's not easy being a treasure.
I have been unmoved by the alter ego, the punditry, the television shows, the panel game appearances but I am going to be ever thankful for the pottery. After fifty years of ash glazes, raku firings, beards and denim clad hand throwers, Grayson grabbed the world of pottery by the throat and took it to new place. Pots could be beautiful again, glazes vibrant, decoration intricate and detailed, and even more it could transmit ideas, make social comment and still get gilded, fantastic. Grayson took pottery from a sad, gloopy boring place and has produced art of great relevance, that's the real treasure.
AGED AND AWKWARD