Page 15 - Studio International - February 1968
P. 15

These are the anxieties of all artists in a   its two Sotheby's auctions to raise a sum   sound of cheques showering on to board­
            highly technological society, and cannot   which, with the help of the Arts Council,   room table ....
            be dismissed as reflexes based on an out­  and donations from the other art and     But to launch and develop, this policy
            moded idea of what constitutes an artist.   design societies with which the ICA is   needs an injection of capital, first to
             But (and this is my second point) both   associated at Carlton House Terrace,     equip the new place uniquely, then to
            writers have to refer to concrete        covers the structural conversion costs.   make enough people realize it's there-the
            experiences outside this country. Cohen   The ICA now has a magnificent 6,000-     Mall hitherto has been associated with
            speaks of Montreal; Lynton lists San     square-foot space, ready to become a new   State processions rather than with the
            Francisco, Cracow, Kyoto. In Britain,    kind of artistic crucible. An Arts Council   arts. I write these lines the week before
            most explorations into this area have had   grant covers rent and basic running costs.   the Government announces its expendi­
            to take place in very unfavourable condi­  The policy of the new ICA involve       ture cuts. The Arts Council is fighting
            tions. The Homsey Light/Sound Workshop   running at least a four-ring circus. An   simply to maintain its grant at the present
            has been hampered by lack of cash, Mark   art-house cinema, showing major first-run   subsistence level. One million pounds cut
            Boyle has often had to set up and start   features. A gallery, equipped both for   from the arts would scarcely help the
            with little or no rehearsal. Yet both have   exciting 'conventional' exhibitions, as   balance of payments, but its effect could
            produced interesting and exciting work.   well as highly unconventional shows. A   be catastrophic on a field of activity in
            At this time, however, what is holding   performance area, for experimental        which this country excels. This is nof a
            back further development in this area of   theatre, dance, music. A sustained      propitious time to go to industry for gifts.
            exploration, allowing only sporadic hit­  symposium about our society, exploring   Maybe the young lions of pop music and
            and-run experiments or sideline          our pains and joys in continuity and      the cinema are our new patrons ....
            speculation, is the lack of a centre with   depth. Such inquiry rarely happens in the   Voices start breaking into my thoughts
            the means of production, which, once     forums of editorials or television, despite   at these crossroads. Like Herzog, I begin
            beyond a certain level of sophistication,   . all our current self-dissection; the sym-  composing imaginary letters in my head.
            are too expensive for any single artist to   posium could touch precisely those    Dear Mr Healey, I imagine you've got a few
            own. (Even the underground centres       perplexities which are also slipping      Buccaneer bombers on your hands now that
            which fostered the growth of these        through the grid of our educational      the South African arms deal is off.  We've
            experiments have gone:  UFO succumbed     system. This policy not only responds to   got a 6,000-square-foot exhibition space in
            to gangsterism, the promoters moved in.)   the present dissolving of boundaries    the Mall.  Until you find a new customer  for
             In such a centre, which would combine   .between the arts: it also representsen   the Buccaneers, why don't you lend us one
            the equipment of a gallery, theatre and   imaginative response to the specific space   for a month?  We'll put it on show with a
            sound studio, it would be possible for   at Nash House, and a maximum utilization   placard saying THIS IS A BUCCANEER
            artists regularly to step off the sidelines   of what industrialists would call the plant.   BOMBER. IT COST£   ?   , A SUM
            if they wished, and find out whether they   (Now I begin to talk, no longer to Studio   WHICH WOULD KEEP THIS ARTS CENTRE
            could in fact keep their personal grasp on   International, but to The Economist.  My   RUNNING FOR ? YEARS.  More voices in
            this audio-visual/happening/public art.   voice alters.)  'Such a policy, gentlemen,   my ears, voices saying Back Britain, me
            This is one of the things the new ICA     is the one chance the new ICA has to     answering which Britain? whose Britain?
            plans to provide. Then we shall be able   reach out to a new membership, create a   The traffic whips past at the crossroads
            to see whether the visual artists' present   dramatically increased membership, and   avoiding accidents by a hairsbreadth.
            fascination with performance is path­     enjoy greater income from a diversified   Another voice in my ear, William Blake's:
            ological-the result of loneliness; just   number of activities. Such a policy,     'Let it no more be said that States
            flirtation; or a real love-affair. There   gentlemen, can put the new ICA on the   Encourage Arts, for it is Arts That
            might even be a marriage or two, with the   map for a substantial audience (thus   Encourage States. Art and Artists are
            other arts: my whole point is that at    justifying State subsidy) and also, in a   Spiritual and Laugh at Mortal Contingen­
            present no place exists for such wedding   matter of two or three years, reduce the   cies. It is in the power of the State to
            ceremonies.                               operating deficit to a manageable size.   hinder Instruction, but not to Instruct,
             Put it another way. I want the ICA at    This four-ring circus policy not only    just as it is in their power to Murder a
            Nash House to give new meanings to the    makes artistic and intellectual sense, it   Man but not to make a Man'. Thank you,
            word 'show'. Such a 'show-place', such a   makes financial sense too.  There is no   Blake. You're a good guide on this
            programme, costs money. The ICA, thanks  way on but forwards.' Applause from       journey. My head bursts with itineraries.
            to the incredible generosity of artists,   financial angels and gnomes.  Fade out   The traffic whips past. The lights are
            coll_ectors, and dealers has been able in   wishful dream sequence to the deafening   permanently green.    January 7, 1968

             Mark Glazebrook read history at Cambridge, painted   Kenneth  Martin  has  been  engaged  in  the  field  of   Corrections
             under Kokoschka and at the Slade, and worked at the   abstract,  constructed  and  Kinetic art since the  late   We  apologize  for  the  mis-spelling  in  our  January
             Arts  Council  for  three  years.  He  is  at  present  the   '40s.               issue of the names of  Herbert  Ferber (p. 11)  and of
            regular art critic of London Magazine.                                             Tony Smith (p. 12) and for the omission of a caption to
                                                      Cyril  Barrett  is  Senior  Lecturer  in  Philosophy  at   George Rickey's sculpture (p. 9).
             Eddie  Wolfram  is  a  practising  painter,  and  also   Warwick University and a frequent contributor to art
             works extensively  in  TV  and  films  as  director  and   magazines.
             art director.  He has written  art criticism for Art and
            Artists and Arts Review.

   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20