Thequ picture

Are critics missing the best art? Words: John Fardeil

HIGH FIVE Compere of DDT

film/"l" it’d/£2


comedy club, CRAIG HILL chooses his live favourite comedians.

1 Victoria Wood Wonderful use of language and real names. Her timing is impeccable. She captures the essence of real life so well.

2 Bette Midler For having such balls when she was young. She didn't care what folk thought of her. Imagine Bette singing for gay men in a bathhouse.

e‘re living through a Golden Age of

British art. ‘We know that.‘ say the

culturally-informed. media literate

List readers. Damien Hirst . . .Tracey Emin . . . that crowd.‘

No. no. I mean a Golden Age of drawing and

3 Barbra Streisand Especially in the movie, What's Up Doc. She is really undervalued as a comedy

actress her delivery is great. I painting.

4 Victor And Barry Camp as tits, especially in High Life even though they hark back to Francie and Josie. They've been so successful in their individual careers but they could have gone on to be an amazing duo.

5 The Marx Brothers Because of Harpo who did mad things like rollerskate around supermarkets. I also like Groucho's innuendo. They really pushed the boundaries out.

‘1)raii'i'ng and Painting I’ But drawing and painting are dead. Conceptual art. installation pieces. that's where art's at.’

Well. it is if you believe the media. If you believe me. the most exciting. most interesting visual art of today is to be found in children's book illustration.

Over the last few decades a burgeoning number of exceptional illustrators such as Quentin Blake. John Burningham. Helen Cooper. Lucy Cousins. Barbara Firth. Michael Foreman. David Hughes. Lydia Monks. Helen Oxenbury and many. many others. too numerous to mention. have been producing

Quentin Blake is loved the world over, but you wouldn’t know it to read the papers

the almost total expense of other fonns of visual 2111.

C ultuml archaeologists of future centuries will read our arts magazines with bewilderment. ‘These joumalists wasted all those column inches on some bloke sending his possessions through an industrial shredder.’ they‘ll gasp. ‘when they could have done an extended interview with the

azmuuuA picture book illustrations. using every great Helen Oxenbury . . . What were they pick, five conceivable style and technique. amassing a thinking of.” performers published body of contemporary art of But don‘t misunder-stand me; this isn't a

she admires.

1 Barbara Cook She has a voice like an angel. and despite many personal problems. has been singing like an angel for 50 years.

2 John Oielgud I love

Shakespeare being spoken well, and he is the greatest exponent of it. I took a tape of his Hamlet on

holiday recently.

3 Julie Waiters Such a truthful, unassuming actress. She is always

so down to earth.

4 Roddy McMillan He was a lovely man, a good actor and playwright with a wicked sense of


5 Aiy Bain A fiddle player from the Shetlands who is self taught. I love his CD Follow the Moonstones. a combination of Scottish/Norwegian music he did with the BT Ensemble.

PS in order to avoid divorce pro- ceedings. l admire Russell Hunter.

my husband's work.

These journalists wasted all those column inches on some bloke sending his possessions through an industrial shredder.

outstanding quality.

Our top British illustrators. veterans and newcomers alike. are leading living practitioners of a major intemational art form with a long and distinguished history. yet. if you were to scan through an average week's arts coverage in our newspapers and magazines. you'd hardly know they existed at all.

Possibly there‘s a prejudice against utilitarian art which is designed to work (usually with text) on the printed page. rather than in a gallery. Certainly there's a prejudice against any cultural work produced for children (or ‘kids' ). Whatever the reason. British arts journalists (with the exception of an occasional book reviewer) generally ignore children’s book illustration.

l'm not saying that none of today‘s gallery- based an is any good far from it but surely it doesn't automatically deserve to be covered at

Amores Perros,Filmhouse. Edinburgh


whinge about the lack of

status of illustrators. Outside the blinkered world of art criticism. many illustrators are making good livings in a flourishing international industry. My concern isn't that an artist like Quentin Blake isn’t famous enough. On the contrary. he’s a household name in Britain and in many countries where they‘ve never heard of Tracey Emin and her unmade bed. My concem is that there are art journalists who don't know who Quentin Blake is.

So does it matter if the arts media is missing out on so much good stuff? Well. if you‘re already one of the millions of children and adults who’ve managed to discover the rich and complex world of children‘s picture books without the aid of critics, there‘s no problem. But if you’re someone who‘s been believing the media's myth that the best art is all to be found in galleries. you should get down to your nearest bookshop and see what‘s really been going on.

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into fraternal relations.

8 THE LIST 24 May—7 June 2001

whole scope of a story.

interwoven. Gruesome but with a fantastic ending.