Sunday, March 30, 2008

Art for Art's sake, Money for God's sake

This morning I was dragged to the William Morris collection in Walthamstow. Whenever I visit an art gallery I realise what a verbal person I am. My wife looks at the exhibits and reads the captions afterwards. I do things the other way around.
The building was Morris's home and the permanent collection seemed to do a good job of providing an introduction to him. I preferred looking upstairs at the work of Frank Brangwyn but then I'm a sucker for a good propaganda poster (left).
Since visiting I learn that the place is under threat of curtailment, if not closure. I sympathise with the councillors of Waltham Forest who have to line this up against all their other outgoings and decide whether it's something they should be funding; on the other hand we turned up expecting to pay and were told to put our money away. I think Morris, who spent most of his life trying to make sure his mother's mining shares could continue to underwrite his adventures in socialism, would have taken it.


  1. That kind of Socialism has always got on my wick, despite my admiration for the Arts and Crafts movement and the Pre-Raphaelites.

  2. I'm not sure about the paying to enter galleries thing, I have feeling it should be all or nothing. I do get annoyed when I visit the Prado etc and have to pay and yet Jose and Maria from Madrid swan into the Tate for nowt. In many ways these small local collections are more deserving of central goverment cash than say the royal opera house.

  3. Anonymous10:32 am

    Punto de información: The Prado's free for two hours every evening Tuesday to Saturday, all afternoon on Sundays and all day on half a dozen or so days a year. It's always free for all pensioners, students, disabled people and kids from EU countries. Otherwise José and Maria have to pay their 15 euros to get in, just like you or anyone else (there are no special arrangements or discounts for Spanish citizens).

    And are you similarly annoyed at having to pay hefty tolls to use most French motorways while Jean and Marie can tootle up the M1 for free?


  4. Oh do you know let's make all museums free otherwise we'll get into a debate about EU funding and that' ll be dull. As a tax payer I do feel often in these public spaces that I'm the only one who has paid to get in (as well as chipping in with my tax)so maybe I could at least be able to look at the pictures in peace. The Prado is the best art gallery in the world mind :)

  5. I went to the Prado last year and the queues were unbelievable. I get the feeling that if you lined up all the people who visited the Morris collection in a year they wouldn't stretch much beyond the gate.