❚ A NEW WORK BY TURNER PRIZE-WINNING ARTIST Mark Wallinger is released today as part of a campaign supported by more than 100 leading British artists against the government’s proposed funding cuts of the arts.
Mark Wallinger’s work shows a copy of the masterpiece, The Fighting Temeraire, 1839 by Joseph Mallord William Turner, in the collection of the National Gallery in London. A slash in the painting carries a notice “25% cut” and beneath it a caption reads: “If 25% were slashed from arts funding the loss would be immeasurable.”
Turner refused ever to sell The Fighting Temeraire — depicting the final journey of the 98-gun ship which played a distinguished role in Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 — until he finally donated it to the National Gallery. When the BBC asked the nation to nominate the greatest painting on show in UK museums and galleries, this came first with 25% of the votes. Turner’s concern was to evoke a sense of loss as the great battleship was towed to the breaker’s yard.
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.”