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The Rake’s progress: last week in gossip

6 June 2016

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

On the question of morality in the digital age, few subjects divide opinion quite like the selfie phenomenon. To some, the practice is a harmless expression of fun; to others, it represents the end of civilisation as we know it. In a boost for the former camp, the improbably named town of Sugar Land, Texas, has placed a (hideous) bronze sculpture of two girls taking an impromptu self portrait on a smart phone, prompting mixed reactions. The work is one of a series of sculptures around the town, which, according to the Sugar Land Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, depict the most common activities taking place in public areas, and are intended to bolster ‘the City and the Legacy Foundation’s commitment to establish cultural arts amenities.’ Say cheese, perhaps.


Hard times for East London’s Jack the Ripper Museum, which has been ordered to get rid of its signage with immediate effect after being refused retrospective planning permission. Readers may remember that said livery – a black background with blood red letters, obviously – was a cause for outrage when the institution opened last summer. The owners had pitched their museum as a ‘celebration of the women of the East End’ – a strange way to describe a Hammer Horror-ish display dedicated to a 19th-century serial killer, but there you have it.

Rather more problematically, the council has also instructed the museum to get rid of its metal shutters due to the fact that it lies in a conservation area. Yet the owners of the place insist that the protective measure is necessary: ‘These shutters are necessary not only for the security of the museum but its employees and visitors,’ said a spokesman for the museum. ‘The museum’s staff have been physically attacked, pelted with eggs, harassed and sworn at – all incidents have been reported to the police.’ You can’t help but feel more than a little sorry for the miserable employees of the place.


The last time Rakewell got wind of Lego’s involvement with the arts, the Danish toymaker was actively holding them at arm’s length by turning down a bulk order from Ai Weiwei. The fracas that followed is well documented: Ai’s fans got cross and the firm was forced to issue a grovelling apology. Happily, all parties involved kissed and made up.

Unfortunately, though, it seems not everyone is happy with Lego’s use as an artistic material. Last week, at the Chinese Lego expo in Shanghai, a small boy got a little too enthusiastic and single-handedly destroyed a giant sculpture of a cartoon fox built from the bricks. Mr Zhao, the artist behind the work, said he had spent three days and nights putting the £10,000 work together, but still refused to an accept an offer of compensation from the lad’s parents, insisting that he had not intended to smash it up. Let’s put it down to creative destruction, then.

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