support from The Times

Janice Turner comment in The Times today:
"Whiling away a rainy half-term afternoon at Tate Britain, my son parked himself at the art trolley, a facility whereby one’s darling child can, with a Pritt Stik and a few stumpy crayons, replicate a great master and provoke the preening parental outburst: “Oh look, Henry’s made a Mondrian!”

But this time the children were handed bits of paper printed with words such as “peace”, “war”, “fight” and “truth”, together with a few CND symbols. They were supposed to recreate the exhibition by artist Mark Wallinger, who himself painstakingly copied the tatty cardboard banners of Brian Haw, the Iraq war campaigner who set up home in Parliament Square. (Why could he not just buy the orginals from Haw, who could surely with a few cereal boxes run up some more? Or would that defy some esoteric modern art principle?)

Whatever my deep ambivalence about the war, the lazy, self-righteous sloganising of the peace lobby never fails to rouse my inner warrior. Haw, it was implied, was the victim of “Bliar” and the police state, although his grotty collection of mangled baby pictures and egotistical invitations to “Beep for Brian” that sprawled untidily across the square were not removed altogether, just confined to a smaller area. And demonstrations have not been banned within Westminster, as was implied; you just have to fill in a simple form first – even the agit-prop comedian Mark Thomas had to agree that the police administering this were charming and wholly efficient – which doesn’t seem completely unreasonable close to the seat of government.

My son dutifully made his “hippy picture”, which read “Peace not war, no fighting” while I made my own protest, after the crude style of Haw/Wallinger. In angry capitals I scrawled “KOSOVO, BOSNIA: SOMETIMES WAR WORKS”, “WOULD YOU RATHER SADDAM WAS STILL POISONING KURDISH BABIES?” and “SHOULD THE WEST STAND BY WHILST THE TALIBAN MURDERED WOMEN?” and slipped it among the exhibits. When I returned 30 minutes later it had been removed. At least I know how Brian Haw feels. "

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