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Angry artists get stuck in petition to sack Tate boss

PUBLISHED: 13:07 15 May 2008 | UPDATED: 15:04 07 September 2010

TRACY Emin's bed, bendy slides and the mounds of white cubes should all be thrown in the Tate Modern crack, according to a local petition calling for a return to classical art

Katie Davies

TRACY Emin's bed, bendy slides and the mounds of white cubes should all be thrown in the Tate Modern crack, according to a local petition calling for a return to classical art.

Artists Edna Weiss from Morris Walk, Hampstead Garden Suburb, and Charles Thomson from East Finchley have started the petition calling for Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate Modern, to be removed from his position.

Mr Thomson said: "Sir Nicholas has a very narrow view of what is worthwhile art and there is a complete imbalance - with figurative artists being completely ignored at the Tate. It is a travesty.

"The overwhelming consensus among the public is they don't like this stuff - it is a joke to a lot of people."

Mr Thomson started the Stuckism movement opposed to work by conceptual artists like Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin which he claims is really just "rubbish".

Now he and supporters such as Ms Weiss are calling on the Prime Minister to step in and remove Sir Nicholas from office.

"He has bought, literally, a "Tin of Shit" (that's what it's called on the Tate web site) for £22,300.

"Other purchases include a so-called artwork consisting of a ham radio and coat hangers for £10,000, an idea for people to stand in a queue for £20,000, and a 1974 Fiat 126, available on Ebay for under £500, for £12,617 from a Turner Prize winner. The money is an issue - these things add up to £1million," said Mr Thomson.

"They are not at all remarkable. I can pick up my pen and call it End to Arabia and that's art? You can make yourself think about it and find something in it - but it hasn't got anything it didn't before as a pen on my desk.

"They have set up a niche for people who aren't terribly good at anything and as they aren't competing with other artists they aren't judged."

Ms Weiss, a portrait artist and animator who trained at the Royal Academy alongside Hampstead sculptor Sir Anthony Caro, is backing the campaign.

"Art has become celebrity," she said. "I think they just want to shock people by doing something different.

"It has nothing to do with art - where there is value in making something beautiful. I don't know whether Tracy Emin can draw - I have certainly seen no evidence of it. When I was in school you really had to learn your craft."

Certain artists do, however, escape the wrath of the group.

"I have to say I like Banksy and I am going to see his work in the tunnel," said Ms Weiss.

"It's the things like when they turned the light on and off. They call it art - who are they trying to kid?"

The online petition can be found at petitions.pm.gov.uk/tatedirector.

Sir Nicholas' reappointment is being decided in August and needs the Prime Minister's approval.

The Tate Modern refused to comment.

katie.davies@hamhigh.co.uk


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