Why is it, I wonder, that periodically we hear of people trying to scar, or intend to damage beyond repair, great works of art in famous public galleries?
On this latest occasion, the relevant famous piece of art, ‘The Morning Walk’, was painted by Thomas Gainsborough in 1785 (depicting a Mr and Mrs Hallett) and the work featured for a second or two in the James Bond film Skyfall.
What did surprise especially about this story, was the age of the person arrested, being given as in his 60s, allegedly.
Of course we do not know the mindset behind his actions, but hopefully, restoration of Gainsborough’s work will successfully be achieved, though even if it is, the point remains, that it will not be ‘as it was’, and perhaps in that thought is the answer.
Many of us, especially those with no families, will not have any tangible memory to leave behind that we once lived.
If it is commonplace, that even when a large part of society, and predominantly those who are older, are already ignored and discarded by the rest of society whilst alive, it follows they will rarely be spoken about, if ever, when they are dead.
That, of course, does not justify anyone defacing Masterpieces but it may explain why, in a few cases, art is so vulnerable to this kind of thing.
I love the National Gallery and have written about visiting this glorious venue most times when I am in London.
It was also featured as a venue in the final scenes of the remake film St Trinian’s, especially so, my favourite painting, The Rokeby Venus by Artist Velazquez.
We are so hugely privileged in London to have access to walk leisurely through this Gallery, free of charge, and sit opposite various Masterpieces, to rest, and at the same time enjoy viewing such wonderful art.
I have often thought, however, how vulnerable these works have been, and perhaps there should now be Government investment for infrared beams surrounding each piece so that if anyone gets too close, some type of protective plastic shutter covers the art – it may be the time has arrived where such shields should be surrounding the art now as a permanent transparent protection. Sad, but perhaps necessary. Alternatively, a squad of volunteers to be vetted and helping existing attendants in each area.
At the end of the aforementioned St Trinian’s film it depicts scores of school children rushing into the National Gallery, along the various corridors and alcoves, in keeping with the story line and plot structuring of the film.
Every time I see this clip I think two things; (1) nobody will stop that lot (reference to their collective reputation within the film), but more importantly, (2) what a heritage is theirs as they enter the Gallery – and we must do all we can to protect our art everywhere for future generations.
I was going to finish my article at this point but felt compelled to add the following.
Not everyone can paint, and even if they can, only a few artists would ever be acknowledged as artists either in, or after their time.
The thought came to me, that in this digital age, wouldn’t it be lovely if everyone could be given the option to have registered an image of either some area of creative art, or anything which meant something to them in their lives.
We already have DNA imprints within each one of us, but we have nothing to represent the human spirit or essence of ourselves, even including those who have children and grandchildren.
Just an idea…which might actually work.
Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine