Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.
Eyebrows were raised last week when UK supermarket giant Sainsbury’s placed an advert in a local paper, calling for an artist to decorate the canteen of its Camden Road branch.
‘We are looking for someone to bring their own style to transform our canteen into an environment that allows positivity and inner peace through all the scopes of your imagination,’ read the ad. ‘Get your work recognised. Share your gift with the heart of Camden. Leave your mark by what you love and do best.’ Sounds lovely. But there was a catch: the store was asking prospective candidates to contribute their work for free.
If the store’s managers were hoping for ‘positivity’ and ‘inner peace’, they had another think coming. Within hours of the ad’s publication, legions of angry artists took to Twitter to bash the chain for its apparent miserliness. ‘Try something new today’, wrote one user, satirising a recent ad campaign, ‘like paying an artist for work.’
The firm was forced to apologise, describing the ad as an ‘error of judgment’. The Rake wonders what Sir Robert Sainsbury, the former president of the chain, best known for his boundless generosity towards the arts and patronage of the (then unfashionable) Francis Bacon would have made of it.
As Tate Modern gears up to open its gigantic new extension, The Observer has asked several art world celebrities to contribute their thoughts on Britain’s favourite modern art museum. Amid the plaudits, there are also some interesting complaints: Gavin Turk complains about the lifts while Jonathan Meades wonders what prompted Tate to drop the definitive article from its ‘eye wateringly expensive’ livery. Most intriguing, though, are gallerist Sadie Coles’s thoughts on Tate Modern: ‘[I]f it is a personal anecdote you want: I said yes to love in Tate Modern’s car park after an inspiring visit in 2004. That’s the power of art.’
Rakewell has received an invitation to the launch party for Friends of the Earth’s Great British Bee Count. The bash, which is intended to highlight the plight of Britain’s dwindling bee population, is being hosted in collaboration with Artfinder – which has invited aspiring artists to ‘create an artwork that celebrates bees in all their natural glory’.
If the opportunity to save our bumblebees wasn’t enough, the invitation also loudly trumpets the fact that among the artists exhibiting is none other than mid-noughties TV celebrity Fearne Cotton. The last time the Rake heard of Ms Cotton’s budding painting career, she was attempting to get the word ‘Twart’ – that is, paintings posted on Twitter – added to the dictionary.