Thursday, 1 February 2018

Manchester Art Gallery Takes Down A Work By Waterhouse


Here is the headline:
And Manchester Art Gallery's official announcement:
When I worked in Manchester city centre I used to visit the gallery in my lunch hour or after work and spend time studying the paintings. The pre-Raphaelite works and my exploration of them with a friend even inspired one of my novels, Cold Fusion 2000 (though in the novel I transposed a key scene to the Whitworth gallery instead, for geographical reasons).

Since a gallery can only display a portion of its paintings at a time I don't mind cycling collections at all, it makes sense so that everything gets its day in the sun (or, rather, UV-reducing lights); but attempts to hide or censor the past are generally counter-productive. Instead we should analyse the past as it was, and interpret it. We can't do that when it is locked away. It's like the bowdlerised versions of books by Mark Twain or Enid Blyton (and don't mention Noddy). It's actually better to see them in the context of the time and use them as starting points for discussing changing attitudes than to pretend any offensive elements never existed. In one case we educate. In the other we miss the opportunity to do so.

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2 comments:

John Hedtke said...

Just wanted to say I appreciate your comment about bowdlerizing Tom Sawyer w/r/t removing Hylas & the Nymphs. Well spoke! I added a comment on that thread myself just now (with a similar POV). :)

BTW, you make to any of the cons on the West Coast--Norwescon, Orycon? Shall you be at Worldcon San Jose?

Karl Drinkwater said...

Thanks John, glad I wasn't alone on that!
I'm not in the US I'm afraid, so will be restricted to UK (or Welsh) conferences!