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Tony Grist

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Political Portraits [Jan. 15th, 2014|10:22 am]
Tony Grist
I rather liked the portrait of Diane Abbott that was plastered all over the media yesterday but that's not the point. Why, in an age when any public figure who sticks their nose out the front door is going to meet lenses at every turn, do we still need to spend public money (it adds up to rather a lot) on commissioned portraits of MPs?  If you want to know what- for example- Tony Blair looks like all you have to do is Google him and take your pick of the millions of images available- some of which move and speak- and almost any of which is going to be more telling than the official painted portrait with its down-cast eyes that makes him look like the ascetic philosopher king we all know he isn't. The body that commissions these things is perpetuating tradition for its own sake. We own painted portraits of distinguished 19th century parliamentarians so we need painted portraits of Abbott and Bercow and IDS to complete the set- which is the way stamp collectors think. Let's stop doing it. And earn the gratitude of posterity- which is very unlikely to want to inherit- and have to store and care for- so many unmemorable paintings of folk who no longer matter.

[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2014-01-15 01:18 pm (UTC)
And there has been a lot of disquiet about the money involved. Have these people not heard of austerity?

If you wander round the nether reaches of Westminster Abbey there is a veritable junkyard of statues and memorials to politicians past - all with inscriptions amounting to "his name liveth for evermore". Few of them are famous now. They might as well all be called Ozymandias.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-01-15 01:50 pm (UTC)
That's right.

Oldham possesses a couple of very grand 19th century statues of former MPs. They used to stand in the town centre but were later exiled to the park. One of them is called Platt and I forget the name of the other. Both are utterly obscure.

Edited at 2014-01-15 01:52 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: rosamicula
2014-01-15 01:48 pm (UTC)
Hey - they are giving public money to artists, not blowing it on duckponds or contracts for cronies.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-01-15 01:54 pm (UTC)
There is that, I suppose...
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