Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Friday May 15 2009

Perish the thought.  It’s about art and suchlike.

image

But this here is cat blogging.  And this would also be the same cat, I presume.

I can’t tell how good the blog of Madame FI (aka Bunny Smedley - see a recent comment here) is, because she’s a friend from way back, and when I read her, I hear her cute accent, East Coast American, one of my favourites. So I enjoy it all even when I might not otherwise read such a thing.

I note, however, that she disapproves of Anthony Gormley.  See here.  I, on the other hand, share the widespread fondness for Gormley’s various objects, although some are definitely more successful than others.  I greatly admire the Angel of the North.  I also particularly like all those Men, who stood around the Royal Festival Hall and nearby spots not so long ago, begging to be photographed by the likes of me, which of course I did copiously.  But I left it rather late to post any of those Gormley Men snaps.  This could be my excuse.

I do concede that Gormleys can be very hit-or-miss.  When you commission one, you are just as likely to get a dud as a hit.  There is a sort of cloud of knitting needles, for instance, which used to be next to the Dome in east London, and may still be for all I know, which is supposed to have another Man inside it.  But it just looks like a pointless cloud of knitting needles to me.  And a while back there was a ridiculous TV show about what appeared to be a completely fatuous cloud of steam, inside one of the South Bank art galleries (I think), signifying nothing.  On the other hand, basing it on the photos I’ve seem of them, I do like those other Men, standing on beaches this time, a bunch in Norway, and another bunch somewhere on the Lancashire coast.

I notice that Madam FI bases her disapproval of Gormley, partly anyway, on the things he says.  She calls him very cynical, which he may well be, for all I know or care.  The things Gormley says about his creations are indeed almost entirely fatuous, but who the hell cares what clouds of hot aired art-bollocks he chooses to surround his creations with?  Behind all the hot air, they are clearly visible and they speak for themselves loudly and clearly, to me anyway.  Or not as the case may be.

Thanks, Brian. The cat in question is called Molasses. In my limited experience of these things, black cats (or chocolate-aubergine cats, because in sunlight there’s nothing black at all about them) are much harder to photograph than e.g. tabbies or black-and-white moggies, which is what our other two are, which is probably why I end up photographing him so often. That, and the fact he likes sleeping at the end of my desk.

In the photo above, though, he’s completely focused on batting at something large and sparkly, a look of only slightly crazed concentration burning in his eyes. I thought that summed up Fugitive Ink pretty neatly.

Indeed, it was more or less in that spirit that I started batting at Gormley. I do think the plinth commission is lazy, although I can see that it will provide opportunities for striking photographs as well as some low-effort, high-return journalism. But I’m genuinely fascinated to learn that you see more in him than I do.

More than a decade ago, I stumbled into (almost literally) one of those lots-of-lumpy-clay-figure installations of his in a cellar in Prague, which was memorable, because it was both unexpected and potentially rich in historical resonances. The third or fourth time the same thing cropped up, however, over the next few years, always somewhere foreign and ‘unexpected’, I got a bit bored of it.

So maybe over-exposure is part of a problem? It’s one of the curses of BritArt, certainly, the amplification of some very small and faltering talents - that, coupled with the sure and certain knowledge that British taxpayers are, whether we like it or not, whether the work coincides with our own taste or not, paying more for it than we might, perhaps, wish. But having read what you’ve written, I’ll definitely give Gormley another look. Even though your taste in accents is very clearly suspect! ;-)

Posted by Bunny Smedley on 16 May 2009

Barendina, is there no end to your exoticism?

Fully support Brian’s comments. Using his logic, I’m allowed to say Fugitive Ink is very good indeed as I only recently stumbled across it and its felinophilic chatelaine, Madame FI.

Posted by Gaw on 16 May 2009
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