I did my first online interview yesterday in connection with my book. I found it an odd and interesting experience because I was asked not so much about contemporary art museums and how they display art, which is the subject of my book, but about history museums, including the National Portrait Gallery, and how they represent the past, based round the increasingly common view that we can in some way punish people retrospectively for the views that they held, many of which were, in the light of current attitudes, clearly unacceptable and sometimes abhorrent. It’s an issue which is caught up in the current culture wars which are polarised in a way which is incredibly unhelpful. It will be interesting to see what stance the new Mayor’s diversity commission takes and I was pleased to see that it was not about taking statues down, but putting them up, which seems to me to be the right approach, diversifying attitudes to commemoration, rather than trying to abolish attitudes to commemoration in the past.
2 thoughts on “The beliefs of the past”
Greatly looking forward to your book…. And having been appointed a member of the new Mayor’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm I will be fascinated to hear what discussions emerge. Like you, I am greatly encouraged by the positive tone about adding rather than subtracting things; I’m also keen for public commemoration to find more forms than necessarily adding more statues … in poetry and beautiful lettering; in planting and seating; in paving and glass etc…..
Dear Sandy, Yes, I spotted that you were a member, which is really good. It’s so tricky – and a good idea to go for non-figurative forms of commemoration as figurative is now so problematic. Charles