Save the Arts: Mark Wallinger

A new work by Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger has been released as part of a campaign supported by over 100 leading British artists against the government’s proposed funding cuts of the arts.

Mark Wallinger’s work shows a copy of Turner’s masterpiece, The Fighting Temeraire, 1839, in the collection of the National Gallery in London. A slash in the painting carries a notice “25% cut” and underneath the work a caption reads: “If 25% were slashed from arts funding the loss would be immeasurable.”

Turner referred to The Fighting Temeraire as “his darling,” refusing to ever sell it until he finally donated it to the National Gallery. When the nation was asked by the BBC to nominate the greatest painting on show in the UK’s museums and galleries it came first with 25% of the votes.

The title of Mark Wallinger’s new work is “Reckless.” He explains: “I describe the cuts as a reckless adventure. In fact temeraire means reckless in French and by removing the obsolete ship from the scene I am rendering the painting wreckless.”

Mark Wallinger was born in Chigwell in 1959 and lives and works in London. He studied at Chelsea School of Art, London (1978-81) and Goldsmiths’ College, London (1983-85). Since the mid-1980s, his primary concern has been to establish a valid critical approach to the ‘politics of representation and the representation of politics’ and has often explored issues of the responsibilities of individuals and those of society in his work. He was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1995 and represented Britain at the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001. His installation State Britain, recreating peace campaigner Brian Haw’s Parliament Square protest, was an outstanding commission in Tate Britain Duveen series. He won the commission to design the Ebbsfleet Landmark in 2009.

Each week the work of a different artist, created in response to the campaign, will be released. The campaign was launched 10 September with a new video by David Shrigley and a campaign poster by Jeremy Deller, Scott King and William Morris.

Supporters of the artists’ campaign are being asked to sign a petition which will be sent to the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. It points out that it has taken 50 years to create a vibrant arts culture in Britain that is the envy of the world and appeals to the government not to slash arts funding and risk destroying this long-term achievement and the social and economic benefits it brings to all.

The artists acknowledge that reasonable cuts and efficiencies are necessary but they fear that the 25% cuts being proposed will destroy much of what has been achieved and will have a particularly damaging impact on national and regional museums and their collections.

The campaign is being organised by the London branch of a national consortium of over 2,000 arts organisations and artists dedicated to working together and finding new ways to support the arts in the UK.

Full petition details


  1. Lee Pirozzi says:

    It is excellent: perhaps the edges around the cut will fray and bleed with age.
    The art is as it should be to bring emotion to an international audience
    without alienating them: which would be my tendency in that I often create best under the fury of a second. I like it.

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