Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Dear George Osborne, can I make you a quilt?

I ask because I've managed to catch the wonderful Richard Hamilton retrospective at Tate Modern just days before it closes. I won't attempt a review here, except to say I was thrilled by his collages, which in reproduction cannot show the subtle transition between print, paint, cutouts and actual objects such as mirrors, a pencil and pieces of fabric.

But I was especially intrigued by the label on a small, modest watercolour from 1951 that read: "Accepted by HM Government in lieu of tax and allocated to the Tate Gallery in 1992."
My idea of offering a piece of work to the Government - David Cameron and the Chancellor look as if they could do with some comforting at the moment - remained on the level of a happy fantasy until I came to the last room of the exhibition and a large work of 2007 titled Portrait of a Woman as an Artist depicting said woman in a gallery setting wrapped in a sheet-like white gown and holding a  palette and brush: see it here.

Behind her - and this is the really exciting bit - two technicians are hanging on the wall a framed painting of A PATCHWORK QUILT, with blue borders and cream and pink floral fabrics. (I have no idea what message Hamilton was trying to get across, but given his almost fetishistic portrayal of women in the 1960s, 70s and 80s I can't be confident it was a feminist one.)

So here's the deal, Mr Osborne: You let me off my taxes for this past financial year and I make you a quilt like the one in the painting. This way, the Tate can have not a quilt in a picture in a picture but a REAL ONE to hang on its walls. Please think about it, Mr Chancellor. HM Government would be getting a bargain.  

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