MoD criticised over £272,000 works of art

who remembers the 1000 pound a chair story last year?

MoD criticised over £272,000 works of art
By Duncan Gardham
(Filed: 18/11/2005)

The Ministry of Defence has been accused of squandering hundreds of thousands of pounds on art when it is struggling to pay for equipment for troops abroad.

The department spent £272,600 on eight new paintings by two British-born artists for its refurbished headquarters as part of what a spokesman called "defence diplomacy".

The Home Office revealed yesterday that it has spent £150,000 on art for its new building, while the Government Art Collection spent £295,500, mostly for embassies abroad.

The MoD has been heavily criticised for overspending on major projects and running out of vital equipment for the Armed Forces in Iraq and elsewhere. The department has recently renovated its central London headquarters at a cost of £350 million.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence Art Collection said the artists, Zil Hoque, 43, who lives in South London, and Louise Cattrell, 48, from Birmingham, were asked to reflect the idea that the MoD was a "force for good in the 21st century".

The public is unlikely to see the works due to "difficulties with security access".

The spokesman said: "Most of our first-rate paintings are on permanent display in places like the National Maritime Museum and we didn't want to use second-rate paintings of dead admirals from the 19th century. I would argue that this is a good investment of public money."

David Davies, the Conservative MP for Monmouth, who was given the figures in a written answer, said: "While the Government are trying to plug the black hole of the Treasury's budget deficit, they're also making sure their walls are nicely lined with expensive drawings."

Last month the Commons Public Accounts Committee revealed that the MoD's 20 biggest projects are £5.9 billion over budget and more than 17 years behind schedule.
If they want paintings, why don't the Ministers and civil servants have a subscription and pay for them, just like military messes have to?


Well I for one am glad that my railcard cost is going in order to help with the defence budget. I would also gladly sacrifice my body armour to ensure our MOD Lords and Masters are accomodated in the manner to which they have become accustomed. What is wrong with you Bolsheviks?
What is really annoying is that they have picked modern crap art while there are LOTS of Military owned pictures and paintings in store in the National Army Musuem, Imperial War Musuem (Whoise collection I am told is in very poor order) and all the Regimenal Musuems. Given the shinking army there must be plenty of painitings around which once graced the walls of Messes now looking for wall space.

These institutions are often veyr happy to loan paintings for display purposes as long as you insure them.
In any case, I would have thought that second-rate paintings of dead admirals would be ideal for the office walls of second-rate politicians.
Don't knock those thousand-pound chairs. I've seen them in corporate offices around here (Closer to $1000 chairs, but maybe if you add tax and shipping...), and they are bloody comfortable. (I'm assuming these are the 'wire-mesh' chairs)


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