Sunday, 22 July 2012

I'll Have A Large Formaldehyde.......

.............and make it snappy!

I finally got around to seeing the Damien Hirst exhibition at the Tate Modern. I'm not a fan of Mr Hirst but it cost me nothing but time to check it out (that's the joy of corporate membership).

All of the familiar elements were there, spin paintings, spots, skulls, cigarette ends, gemstones, flies, butterflies, rotting meat, sharks and other assorted dead creatures and substantial quantities of the aforementioned formaldehyde. No jewel encrusted skull though, that moved on towards the end of June.It obviously had a better place to be.

That about covers it.

No photographs from inside the exhibition of course, it wouldn't do to deprive Mr Hirst of the post card sales in the gift shop, so I've had to make do with some shots of Hymn which stands in front of the Tate staring towards St Paul's. This twenty foot, six ton, painted bronze statue explores another of Hirst's recurring themes, the anatomical figure.

This is art as a business, nothing new in that of course, it always has been. After all, artists have to make a living, they just do it in a different way to the majority of us. The great masters usually worked to commission and/or lived very comfortably under the patronage of the rich and powerful and lesser artists (in stature but not necessarily in skill and creativity) sell directly or through galleries. Of course, some are better businessmen than others. It is claimed that Vincent van Gogh sold only one painting in his lifetime, but to be fair he did have other things on his mind.

Damien Hirst, however, has taken the art business to a whole new level. He has become more like the creative director of a major corporation than a working artist. In 2008 he took the decision to avoid the traditional route of selling his work through a gallery and presented 244 new works for auction by Sotheby's. The two day event took in excess of £111,000,000. A good couple of days for Mr Hirst then

Just as a matter of interest, here is a selection of the gift shop goodies.

Love of God T-shirt Adult - £46.00
Love of God T-shirtChild - £30.00
Love of God Pencil - £2.05
Spin Painted Skull (plastic) - £36,800.00
Skateboard Deck - £480.00
Deckchair - £310.00
Umbrella - £39.50
Charm Bracelet - £11,000.00
Cufflinks - £250.00
Wallpaper - between £205.00 and £675.00 per roll



Friday, 6 July 2012

Sparking Up The Shard

I failed to make it to the much hyped inauguration of the Shard. Reviews of the event have been mixed but lean heavily towards disappointment, so it seems that I didn't miss much. Perhaps they needed a few tips from the French!

Although the Shard is completed externally, there is still much work to do on the interior. Topping out at 1,016ft (309.6m, that 0.6m really counts for something in the tall building world!), it is actually only the second tallest free standing structure in the UK. The concrete tower at the Emley Moor transmitting station stands at 1,084ft (330m), but to be fair, you can't live in it, stay in it or get a view over London up there in West Yorkshire.

For the record, La Dame de Fer is 1050ft (320m) high but again, you can't live in it, stay in it,or get a view over London. The view over Paris ain't bad though!

Speaking of views, the Shard's observation platform is due to open in February next year, but be prepared to pay an eye watering £24.95 for an adult ticket. If you plan to take a child with you, it will cost you another £18.95. So, not a cheap day out then..................but it is a long way up.......and, eventually, the temptation will probably be too great to resist. Will power is not my strong point.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

London's Olympic Air Defences

It has now been confirmed that, in addition to the Typhoon fighter aircraft temporarily stationed at RAF Northolt, Rapier and Starstreak High Velocity Missiles are to be deployed in London to offer air defence in the event of an Olympics related attack.

I'm a little confused by this.

Presumably, in the event of a 9/11 style attack, either the Typhoons will be sent up in an to attempt to deter the offending aircraft and, if necessary, shoot them down. Or, they will cut out the fighters altogether and go straight in with the missiles!

There does seem to be a flaw in this plan. Anyone involved in this kind of attack has to see it as a one way trip. The threat of being shot out of the sky seems very unlikely to deter them. Therefore, the use of fighters or missiles as a deterrent seems to be a non starter, which leaves the military with only one option which is to shoot down the threatening aircraft.

As there is no way to control, or even to know, where a downed aircraft will crash, the end result of this would be much the same as if the initial attack had been successful. The devastation may not be where the terrorists planned it to be, but it would be devastation all the same and the crew would have achieved the martyrdom that their cause demanded of them.

I'm not here to discuss the political implications or the beliefs of others. Nor am I here to simply dismiss the military response to this type of threat. I may have completely missed the point of these defences, but I don't think I'm alone there.

Without giving away the tactical details of these deployments, we need some explanation as to how the authorities plan to handle an incident and some assurance that the consequences of the defence strategy will not be just as destructive as a successful attack.

If all of this just turns out to be a bluff, or a show of strength, with no real expectation of success, then perhaps we should just call it a day and hope for the best.