Cathedral of Shit

has taken a well earned GAP year

Iwona! Won’t you stop the madness?!

Posted by cathedralofshit on December 5, 2010

You can cut our money, but you’ll never take our dignity! Oh wait, okay you can have that too.


Public, political and diplomatic figures select works from the Government
Art Collection for Whitechapel Gallery exhibition

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Prime Minister’s wife Samantha
Cameron, Lord Mandelson and the British Ambassador to Moscow are among the
high profile figures to select work for the first ever public exhibition
of the Government Art Collection, opening at the Whitechapel Gallery on
3rd June 2011.

Highlights from the Collection will be shown in a series of five
successive displays, marking the first time the collection has been shown
in a public gallery in its 113 year history. It is part of the Whitechapel
Gallery’s ongoing programme of opening up collections that are rarely seen
by the public in the UK and will be free to attend.

The diverse nature of the Collection and its role promoting British
culture on the world stage is the subject of a total of five displays at
the Whitechapel Gallery.

The first display from 3 June – 4 September 2011 is chosen by high profile
political figures that have a close connection with the works.

The seven selectors are:  Lord Boateng, former Government Minister and
British High Commissioner to South Africa; the Prime Minister’s wife
Samantha Cameron; Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg; Lord Mandelson, former
Business Secretary; Dame Anne Pringle, British Ambassador to Moscow; Sir
John Sawers, Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service; and Culture
Minister Ed Vaizey.

Key works include Lancashire Fair: Good Friday, Daisy Nook, a masterpiece
by the famous Northern English artist L.S. Lowry, selected by Samantha
Cameron;  Peas are the New Beans by Bob and Roberta Smith, a humorous
comment on accountancy selected by Lord Boateng; and Queen Elizabeth I, an
enticing historical portrait by an unknown artist, selected by Lord

Staff who carry out a wide range of roles at Downing Street will be
involved in the selection of works for a further display. Their close
proximity to the art on show at the heart of Government will provide a
unique perspective.

The Collection has more than 13,500 works dating from the 16th century to
the present day, shown in over 400 embassies and government buildings

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said

“The Government Art Collection is a unique cultural resource that has, on
a relatively modest budget, built up a collection that holds its own on
the world art stage.

“Thousands of works are already on display around the world and are
regularly seen by the numerous visitors to Government buildings, but this
is the first time that some of the many highlights have been brought
together in one place for the benefit of the wider public.

“I have no doubt that this will be a must-see exhibition, and the
carefully choreographed series of displays at the Whitechapel Gallery is
sure to draw art lovers from around the world.”

The Government Art Collection and the Whitechapel Gallery will present
four further displays on the following themes:

·         A leading contemporary artist presents their personal take on
the Collection. 16 September – 4 December 2011.

·         A cultural and political commentator makes a selection
highlighting the role of the Collection in cultural diplomacy. 16 December
2011 – 26 February 2012

·         Staff from10 Downing Street choose their favourite works. 9
March – 5 June 2012

·         The Government Art Collection commissions a new work of art for
the Whitechapel Gallery exhibition to be displayed alongside previous
commissions during the Cultural Olympiad. 21 June – 2 September 2012.

High profile selectors for each of these displays will be announced in the
coming months.

The displays will be shown in the dedicated Collections Gallery.

Notes to editors

   * The Government Art Collection showcases British art in Government
buildings including Downing Street, the Home Office and British
Embassies and Residences in nearly every capital city across the
world.  The Collection promotes British art and culture to the world
and facilitates diplomatic and cultural links by selecting works of
art with connections between the host country and the UK.

   * The Government Art Collection exhibition is a collaboration between
the Government Art Collection and the Whitechapel Gallery. The
presentation of the Government Art Collection is part of the
Whitechapel Gallery’s ongoing programme of opening up collections that
are rarely seen by the public in the UK.   It follows the presentation
of five displays from the British Council Collection from April 2009 –
May 2010, and four displays from The D. Daskalopoulos Collection,
Greece, from June 2010 – May 2011.
   * Following the end of its run at the Whitechapel Gallery the
exhibition will tour Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery and Ulster
Museum in late 2012 and 2013.
   * The Whitechapel Gallery’s programme of collection displays is
supported by specialist insurer Hiscox.

Visitor Information

The Government Art Collection

3 June 2011 – 2 September 2012. Admission free. Opening times: Tuesday –
Sunday, 11am – 6pm, Thursdays, 11am – 9pm. Whitechapel Gallery, 77 – 82
Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX. Nearest London Underground
Station: Aldgate East, Liverpool Street, Tower Gateway DLR. T + 44 (0) 20
7522 7888

Press Information

For further press information regarding the exhibitions please contact the
Whitechapel Gallery press office:

Rachel Mapplebeck on 020 7522 7880, 07811 456 806 or email

Elizabeth Flanagan on 020 7522 7871 or email

For press enquiries about the Collection please contact the DCMS press

Simon Oliver on 020 7211 6269 or email

Sandra McKay on 020 7211 6267 or email

21 Responses to “Iwona! Won’t you stop the madness?!”

  1. Matthew Arnatt said

    It seems as if the government is not allowed to win. You won’t let them show off their collectables, apparently, at Whitechapel Gallery via that bypass of decorum Iwona B; and we are to congratulate Slade students (earlier post) on their fatuous proclamations (those very students who in years to come will most likely be directing their attention spans at institutional cooption of some kind or other), a properly philistine government would sell student loans on to unlicensed sharks who would have the means to wholly occupy the students.

    • You can’t really be defending the government? And are you really condemning students for what they may do or what they might become in the future?
      And are you implying that institutions are a bad thing?

      Just what are you talking about?

  2. Matthew Arnatt said

    It’s a pity that it’s hard to imagine a sect of civil servants whose choices were informed by just the right amount of limited education, whose choices of works was developed out of a real, sustained, isolation and contempt for the achievability of public goods. An elite band of high ranking civil servants with really, unapologetically mandarin tastes and with something actual to say in line with their limits. That might be a beautiful thing. Why do you think that students can’t be criticized?

  3. Dermot said

    Matthew: stop being pedantic. It’s not the displaying of the Government Art Collection that’s a problem – its the choice of Vaizey, Sam Cam, the Cleggster and that friend of the filthy rich, Mandy, (no idea who the other lot are) to do the choosing. As for the students, good on them. Yes they are perhaps naive – but if they’re following the NUS’s lead (and not all are admittedly) they accept the need for a graduate tax. They’re just against 80% of funding being cut and 100% in the case of arts and humanities. Moreover, everybody else seems to have forgotten how to protest – unless you fancy getting David Shrigley to knock up another cute film.

    btw poor show to CoS for taking down my earlier post: if you’re going to dish out unsubstantiate vitriol then you should be able to take some equally unsubstantiated vitriol on the chin

  4. Occupied said

    I resent being called naive. Some among us are certainly naive, seeming as though they are in an endless episode of The Young Ones. Most of us are not particularly energetic in terms of protesting against the rise in fees in general, I certainly am not. Many more people are going to university nowadays and money for this needs to be found somewhere. The worry is how the damage from this is mitigated.

    The fact that practically 100% of teaching funds will be cut for arts and humanities education is why we are protesting. I defy you to argue that this is not properly indicative of a philistine government, concerned purely with monetary gain and vacuous measures ‘consumer satisfaction’. The change in fees over the next few years and the change in funding will have no affect whatsoever on the majority of us at the occupation. This is an ideological battle for the intellectual health of this country. What other country, in Europe would dare decide that there is nothing intrinsically valuable in the arts, humanities and social sciences which is worth preserving through government funding? It is like telling us that our freedom to choose these subjects is purely a luxury, something which can be discarded during hard times. People dont study these things to get their money’s worth, or to secure themselves financially. They study them because they feel that they are the only reason life is worth living. We refuse to argue this in economic terms.

  5. post it said

    Will Sam Cam have on that idiotic cat got the cheese grin she always has?

  6. Jennie said

    ‘Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said…’I have no doubt that this will be a must-see exhibition…sure to draw art lovers from around the world.”

    Er, why, Ed? Cos it’s been picked by ‘art lovers’? No. It’s been picked by David’s Cameron’s wife, his mates, and a bunch of people who work for or have worked for British government, including that vile man Peter Mandelson.

    And anyway, the show doesn’t really seem to be about art but rather has some sort of sinister focus on ‘the role of the Collection in cultural diplomacy’. Might be of interest if it was being conducted by a faintly objective third party, but not in this propagandistic context. Do they really think this is what the public were asking for when they asked for access to the government’s collection? Jesus wept.

    And Matthew Arnatt, stop waffling, you can have the Incoherent Elitist of the Year Award already.

    • Matthew said

      ‘Jennie’, the educational system should have been reformed again while you were in it. What squalid old bohemian with some patch-work and clashing sense of decency drummed it into you that shows were about art? That would be a tight, nasty, dank raggish smelling circle. And why do think that art lovers musn’t be politicians wives; what’s ‘David Cameron’s wife’ like, really, do you know? Just for interests sake: actually can one go back to find something positive to say about the Whitechapel and its program? As CoS sweetly points out—originally, VICTORIANS were involved. But what should they do, make some selections based upon what you think? Would that be better? We’ll write immediately.

      • Jennie said

        I am in it, ‘Matthew’, but thanks for your interest in ‘improving me’.

        For god’s sake stop contradicting yourself. And look up what ‘nepotism’ means.

      • matthew said

        Jennie, is it formally that you are in education?

        Again, it’s the Government Collection. Things will be chosen by people with a connection to the government, why would the Whitechapel not reflect that? I doubt the collection is really worth bothering with so one would predict that people at the Whitechapel would want to protect themselves a bit by not choosing from it. Though it may be a very funny and lovely show with a delightful spin on it. Do you understand that, or is that another contradiction?

      • Jennie said

        Matthew, I don’t have a problem with the show reflecting the obvious connection of the works to government – maybe you should actually read my posts above, because I’ve already said that.

        Yes, the works probably aren’t great overall, though you are the only one who has argued that they might be, which, yes, is another contradiction. You’re getting better at this.

        And if the pieces are mostly shite, all the more need for proper, inventive curation, rather than a limp PR backhander to Dave’s mates. What sort of context you were using the word ‘elite’ in, in connection with people like Peter Mandelson and Nick Clegg, is totally fucking beyond me.

        The irony is that this very undiplomatic mode of showing the government’s art collection has also been chosen as an occasion to demonstrate the important role it plays in international diplomacy. Massive fail. I hope you find this parade of idiocy as beautiful and sensitive and whatever else as you want it to be. I’m going to avoid it like the fucking plague.

        And Matthew, I’m not telling you where I go to school, or where I live, or the address of my knicker drawer. My mum says you shouldn’t tell weird men on the internet things like that.

  7. Dermot Reeve said

    Dear Occupied

    Why should low-earning tax-payers, most of whom have not been to university, fund future students freedom of choice of subjects to study at university? Does it not make more sense to devolve some power to taxpayers to choose, through the ballot box and the choice of government, which subjects they would like to see subsidised through tax, and which not? Through its imperfect voting system, this country has ended up with the Coalition, who are making an ideological argument that certain subjects are worth subsidising through taxpayers cash, and others aren’t. If you don’t like that, I suggest that you, and your fellow protestors vote Labour next time. And meanwhile its worth noting just how many students voted Lib Dem last time.

    Happy protesting


    • It’s not entirely the fault of students we ended up with a coalition, and if they indeed voted for Lib Dem, they were honestly voting for a party committed (at the time) to the abolition of fees.
      The argument you give here reminds me of a comment from Margaret Thatcher in response to a student who told her she was studying ancient Norse dialects – she replied “What a luxury”. It’s not a luxury. The study of all subjects enriches our society.
      If the taxpayer chooses what students get to study, we end up living in a society where only doctors and scientists study for free, and only the rich get to study the arts. Is that what you are suggesting?

      • Dermot Reeve said

        How exactly does the study of “all subjects” enrich our society? Football enriches society but no-one is asking the taxpayer to contribute to Chelsea’s football academy.

        Generalised faff like “art makes society better” is useless. I agree that artists add something to society – the problem is quantifying exactly what that something is; and why that teaching young students to become artists (as opposed to teaching young kids to be footballers) should be publically funded. This government, for good or for worse, is ideologically committed to rolling back the state (aside from the ring-fenced NHS and Overseas Development) and handing choice of state spending over to what the general public regards as delivering concrete benefits to the public sphere. No-one has convincingly articulated what it is exactly that artists (or students of Norse) exactly contribute to society – that’s why most people on the street would probably opt for their taxes not to go that way.

        Now I’m not saying this is necessarily is a good thing – I’m saying this is the way things are. Someone, somewhere, has got to come up with a coherent set of arguments that takes into account the whole spectrum of cuts to the public sector eg arguing that whilst there are some areas which should and could be cut, there are others (eg degrees) that should be supported.

        At the bottom of this is the simple question: what sort of society do we want to live in? At the moment everyone is falling for the divide and conquer tactics of Osborne, lobbying hard for their own particular hobbyhorse; with the result that the individual bits of lobbying simply get drowned out.

        It’s clear that the cuts to the arts and humanities have little to do with deficit reduction. Its strange how little response aside from a generalised wail of “art is good for us and enriches society” there is to this rather basic fact.


      • Are we to assume you haven’t benefited from funded education in the arts then?

        You ask “what sort of society do we want to live in?”. Well, frankly, one where the arts are embraced and nurtured, and where museums are free and the rivers flow with melted chocolate and trees are made of gingerbread… oh, hang on…

      • bob said

        I agree with CoS on this one. Dermot, your argument is incoherent. And i think you’ll find that football is actually pretty heavily subsidised at the bottom end too, through government sports initiatives.

        The point is the opposite of what you have written./ That arts (and I think we are talking arts and culture here) should not only not be cut, but actually more money should be put into them. Culture and media is one of our biggest growing sectors.

    • Jennieside said

      Dermot, agree that cuts to arts and humanities have little to do with deficit reduction. Would actually argue myself that all cuts have less to do with deficit reduction than with Tory ideology about the size of the state, and a golden opportunity to disguise the retrenchment they’ve always dreamed of as an ‘austerity package’.

      But it’s definitely not a good idea to ask taxpayers to self-allocate the spending of taxes. Can you imagine the field day the papers would have campaigning on what services to vote for and what to cut? That would pretty much be like letting Rupert Murdoch et al decide how to manage public services. So let’s not do that, yeah.

      Though it is galling to think about low-earning taxpayers who’ve never been to university funding those who do, it’s also a bit galling, for example, to think about people’s child tax credits being funded by lower-earning people who are putting off having kids cos they’re skint. But to insist increasingly that every decision we make should be totally self-interested would be to erode the fabric of society to our collective detriment, don’t you think? Actually, the belief that this started to happen decades ago keeps people like Adam Curtis very busy already!

      I also agree that it’s difficult to quantify what art offers to society. I think this is mostly because when we do, we end up talking about economics rather than art, as above.

      I’ve actually recently had a try at doing this anyway, seeing as I’m also not a fan of the ‘generalised faff’ frequently used to defend ‘the arts’.

      Pertinent comments at the end of this post if you’re interested: It’s probably a bit pious in places, but I worked for the Arts Council for a bit so what do you expect. You soak it up 😉

      Wait a minute. I thought this blog was supposed to be some sort of gossip rag?!

  8. Dermot Reeve said

    1.I’ll check the link Jennieside; thanks
    2. CoS: the “we benefited from free tertiary education, so our kids ought to as well” doesn’t hold up – there’d be no policy changes at all if we simply stuck to that. Having said that: bring back grammar schools I say
    3. Bob: those sporting initiatives have also been cut. Your second paragraph doesn’t make any sense: if culture is one of our biggest growth industries it shouldn’t need taxpayer’s support. Private funders would be pouring money into it – or perhaps it isn’t really one our biggest growing industries after all??
    4. Gossip? Who needs it?


  9. Dermot Reeve said

    Okay as long as I can come to your New Year’s Eve party (delete comment now)

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