Saturday, 31 October 2009


Today I went to see Grayson Perry’s Walthamstow Tapestry, 3 metres by 15 metres, at Victoria Miro, and works by Keith Tyson next door, lots of them and most very big. Afterwards, to M who was with me, I said: Did he make that all by himself? She laughed. And Keith Tyson? Oh, he has ‘assistants’ too.

I think I kind of knew this, but I still paused before moving on. Isn’t the point of pretty well most artistic activity that you discover what you’re doing by doing it? That it’s your engagement with the making of it that turns your original idea, impulse, whatever, into the finished piece it becomes?

‘You are old, Father William, and your hair has become very white.’ Guess so. And I decided to be mellow about this. One of the funny things about the Walthamstow Tapestry is that the words, hundreds of them, stitched into the tapestry are all brand names (the work, says the press release, ‘explores the emotional resonance of brand names in our lives and our quasi-religious relationship to . . .’: yes). It’s not black-and-white, anyway. There are parts (the boring bits) of many paintings by the Old Masters that were done by others in the studio. And everyone knows that Katie Price’s books aren’t actually written by Katie Price.

And then I thought, Heaney is a busy man, and Ashbery is over eighty, and Martin Amis has two books coming out early next year, and all those folk on creative writing courses at the very time when publishers are closing doors, where do they go when they graduate? . . . No, no. It's Halloween.

(Meanwhile, some of the reviews are saying the paintings done by D. Hirst himself now at the Wallace Collection show he can’t paint. Which suggests that if you see a painting by ‘Damien Hirst’ that is well executed, it’s not by him.)

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