Wednesday, 6 March 2013


I despair. This is the only place to pen this. An art work out of what I'm about to write would be a body blow, a low punch to my beloved hometown. I know we've been married and divorced twice over but now I simply despair.

I despair at the fact that in this, Britain's 2nd biggest town (that means something, surely?), I sit yet again beside a gallery whose sole purpose is to house meetings. Yes MEETINGS. That endemic culture of 'the meeting'. Let's have a meeting? A beautiful, post-industrial, large, welcoming gallery space that is sited at Luton's Hat Factory. The grand old white elephant managed so disgracefully by Luton Culture. In the need for extra revenue, the gallery charges upto £500 a week for shows. So how is that you may wonder? I have no idea. I don't want to know. Successful mis-management I'd say. Directors of creative HQ's - in this case here, too fucking lazy to think outside of the custard cream or 2 point 4 or being a cosy pigs-in blanket-I'm a civil-servant-who-needs-art? style attitude to it's customer: the general public.

In fact I'm fuming.

Other towns do it. Southend  - Focal Point. A shared, intellectual ouput between gallery staff and the Council there.

Libraries get it right. Luton's library is great.

Add this. I printed up leaflets (as one does) advertising two talks at my current creative HQ: Departure Lounge. The talks are this Saturday, writer Sarfraz Manzoor and Saturday 16th, artist Mark Titchner. I sought permission to display these leaflets out on reception yesterday at Lutons creative 'HQ', the Hat Factory. By lunchtime they'd been covered over, moved. Asking why and explaining that with Arts Council help I'm trying to raise a visual arts profile in the town, a receptionist retorted, 'so are we'.

So there you have it. Irony rules. Arts Council England support me to research and develop my practice around all things Luton; raise the profile, just be here, promote local, regional and national art practices through invitation to this project, stage talks, discourse, discussion, outcomes. Yet the actual arts centre here remove any trace of rigorous artistic endeavour.

You couldn't make this up.


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  2. Not sure that this will help but Gus McDonell, former senior civil servant at Whitehall is doing a series on R4 about bureaucracy - maybe you should contribute your findings! Hope it starts to get better for you soon.