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The Rake’s Progress: A Week in Gossip

1 November 2015

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories. Follow @Rakewelltweets.

It’s a tough call, but the Rake suspects he may just have discovered his favourite world leader-cum-artist. Step forward Albanian PM Edi Rama, who is currently exhibiting his drawings in Hong Kong in a show entitled ‘Calendar Blossoms’.

While the photos of the opening bash certainly look a lot of fun, churlish voices back home in Tirana have suggested that Rama’s artistic exploits do no favours to his country. ‘Instead of promoting Albanian art in the world, [Rama] finds ways to promote his own works’, one disgruntled artist told Balkan Insight Reporting Network.

Indeed, it has also been alleged that the PM – whose talents also stretch to music, having collaborated with rap collective West Side Family – has used the opportunity to make a handsome personal profit from sales of his work.

Oh well. Beats George Bush’s ‘art’.

Everybody needs good neighbours. And if they just happen to be multi-millionaires with luxury homes scattered across the globe, so much the better. So it was with a heavy heart that Rakewell and his Apollo colleagues bade farewell to lute-bothering pop star Sting and actress Trudie Styler when they sold their Westminster home this summer.

Distraught though we are, we notice with interest that the rock legend and the Love Soup star will be offloading a substantial part of their art collection at Christie’s in February. Items up for grabs include Ben Nicholson’s March ’55 and works from Matisse’s Jazz portfolio. According to a Christie’s spokesman: ‘Their home at Queen Anne’s Gate effortlessly combined luxury, rarity and colour – a skilful balance that created the ultimate London home.’

It is with great pleasure that Rakewell receives his weekly e-mail from the office of culture minister Ed Vaizey. The latest installment featured plenty of food for thought, not least this gem:

Ed has flexed his muscles and slapped a temporary export bar on an Anglo-Saxon bronze brooch over 1,000 years old, which is at risk of being exported from the UK unless a buyer can be found to match the asking price of £8,460. Ed tweeted HERE @Twitter.

You might think all that ‘flexing’ and ‘slapping’ might not be ideal for a 1,000 year old artefact, but that doesn’t bother this honourable member, oh no. Ed Vaizey MP: man of culture, man of action.

That wasn’t the end to the culture secretary’s revelations this week. The circular also notified us to the work of London artist Reuben Dangoor, who has produced a handsome set of paintings depicting UK ‘Grime’ rappers in the style of regency portraits. ‘My style of painting was based off 1700s paintings of how aristocracy was painted here’, Dangoor told the LA Times, ‘it’s quite a niche thing to represent grime that way’. Too true. The question is: why?

Given the feelgood/inexplicable (delete as appropriate) success of the Great British Bake Off, the BBC and the show’s producers must have had a tough time creating a concept to follow it up.

But follow it up they have, taking the winning formula of quirky subject matter and base-level innuendo and replacing the cakes with pots. Yes, pots.

And so it is that The Great British Pottery Throw Down begins on BBC 2 next week. As presenter Sara Cox puts it: ‘Clay, mess, passionate potters and the team behind Bake Off. What’s not to love?’

You might well ask, Sara. The similarities between the two shows appear to be uncanny – yet for the moment, Rakewell will refrain from referring to it as The Great British Spin-Off.

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets

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