Anorak News | Art And The Man

Art And The Man

by | 5th, January 2004

‘REMEMBER Robin Cook? Small, gnome-like man with a red beard and a taste for ugly secretaries. Used to be Foreign Secretary. Resigned from the Cabinet last year over the war in Iraq.

Portarit Of The Artist As A Gnome

No? Lucky you. If only it were so easy for the rest of us to forget the little troll and his ”ethical” foreign policy – but we are reminded of his four-year tenure every time we go into one of Britain’s embassies abroad.

In the new British embassy in Berlin, for instance, we see the image of Mr Cook in a £190,000 sculpture by Tony Cragg, entitled Dancing Columns.

In Paris, Mr Cook’s time in office is marked by the oil painting L’Arrivee du Rio George V et de la Reine Mari a l’Opera, Paris by Eugene-Louis Gillot.

And in Lisbon, we see red (with wisps of grey in the beard) when we gaze on an 1880 watercolour by George Lennard Lewis.

In fact, according to the Telegraph, during Mr Cook’s tenure the Foreign Office spent £746,000 buying paintings and sculptures – enough money to wallpaper both of Lord Irvine’s downstairs toilets.

Instead of beating swords into ploughshares, it seems that Mr Cook’s ethical foreign policy involved beating swords into expensive sculpture.

That and selling Black Hawk helicopters to Indonesia – to be used purely in a purely peaceful capacity, of course.

In fact, during that time the Foreign Office spent more on art than the Culture Department, whose job it is to replenish the official Government Art Collection, a collection that already boasts 10,000 pieces.

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who unearthed the information, tells the Telegraph that it shows that Foreign Office spending is not being controlled properly.

”It look as though, if a minister wants to spend money on art, he or she can do it with no control at all,” he said.

No details are available on what art the Foreign Office has purchased since Jack Straw has been at the helm.

But Anorak has learnt that pieces include Osama Bin Laden’s unmade bed (in the Pakistan embassy), a light that goes on and off (in the Baghdad embassy), and a bronze of George Dubya Bush’s bottom (in the Washington embassy), entitled Lick Me.’

Posted: 5th, January 2004 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink