Sunday, 28 June 2009

Art for Art's Sake?

If a picture paints a thousand words, what on earth is this one trying to say?

The above was on the wall of my hotel room (the one with the DIY toaster). Now, I suppose it beats the usual anodyne vase of flowers or blurry-splodgy abstract thing that you usually get in these places, but I've got to wonder what the (no doubt hideously expensive) interior designer was thinking when he/she chose pictures of cutlery to decorate my room.

Maybe it was there to plant a subconscious desire in my mind along the lines of: Oooh, look at that, a picture of a knife and fork. Hmmm, must order room service (£5 tray charge + gratuity, thank you very much).

Maybe the deadline for the design was almost up and the designer panicked, looked around and all he/she could see was some tableware. Out comes the camera-phone, click, and hey presto, that'll be £50,000 please for a stylish modern design with a fresh contemporary feel and urban accents or some such bollocks.


Mind you. In my next hotel, they had this:

Now, I quite like this one. It's not a vase of flowers, nor is it a pretentious finger-painting done by some up-his-own-arse twit who thinks that if you can recognise what the subject of the painting actually is then he's done it wrong. OK, the subject matter is not the most inspiring, but it's fun.

And then there's this. These Big Steel Balls were dotted around the city centre to remind everyone of Sheffield's steel-making past.

I love these, they're so simple and elegant - and shiny. Shiny is a much under-rated aspect of aesthetics in my book.

Damn! I have just this very moment realised why that interior designer snapped pictures of cutlery. Sheffield is famous for its cutlery production – or was, anyway.

So, I should take back all the rotten things I said about the cutlery picture at the start, right?

As if!
If you're going to hang a picture, it should be doing more than filling up a bare space on the wall. I don't expect to find a Damien Hurst Dead Aminal in Formaldehyde adorning my hotel room, but I'm sick of seeing public spaces being decorated with pictures which have all the visual impact of blancmange.
There's a difference between inoffensive and insignificant.


  1. Well, I for one am ready for room service after that first picture - you reckon I can get it here in my own home?

  2. he heh, visual impact of a blacmange

    I have the same problem at work - these bloody awful paintings that look like someone got out their maths set and drew around the edges. Everytime i walk past them i get this big desire to throw them off the balcony.

    Art can be many things - but it should never be bland or corporate

  3. A couple of Jack Vettriano's prints on canvas adorn the wall in my so-called office. My missus calls it the dining room; ha! It's just my pc room really.

    In Thoughts of You is my favourite:,169-870/default.aspx

    I too like the shiny steel spheres in your blog. I would definitely get a strike if they'd let me use one in the bowling alley.

  4. Damien Hurst's pickled animals? Do me a favour.

  5. You're right. The steel balls are very elegant. But the knife and fork pic? We've all missed out on an easy way to make money. Take pics of stupid stuff like my unmade bed, my undercooked hamburger, what ever... and sell them to hotel chains for big quids. Genius.

  6. It's the fork that counts!!.. BOOM BOOM!.. *cough... sorry! yes.. there's an awful lot of bollocks out there! The scary thing is, the majority of people don't think twice about it, don't question why..?.. why!... what makes me mad is to think that a person is making an awful lot of money out of making a load of utter bollocks..... I can make bollocks... where's my money!!!!.. :-D

  7. @Bug – I'm sure your other half would be only too glad to wait on you hand and foot.

    @Pixies – If you ever do throw those awful paintings off the balcony, please film it and post us a link. So perish all such unchallenging rubbish.

    @PhilipH – I followed your link. Now that's more like it! I'd have that kind of picture on my wall any day. Thanks for sharing that.

    @Friko – I'm not a fan of Mr Hurst's pickled dead things, but at least they get people talking, which is something art should be doing.

    @Dave – I think we're all in the wrong business, slaving away at computers or whatnot when we could sell these emperor's-new-clothes things to gulible nitwits.

    @Watercats – Groan (but actually I rather like that joke). As with my response to Dave above, we're all in the wrong business – or maybe we're too honest for our own good.


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