David and Louise Miliband with the painting in their living room. Award winning photograph by Naomi Goggin
A bit like finding a severed head in the linen basket, a gun in the bathroom cabinet, a whip in the downstairs loo.’
Mr Bayley goes on to describe the painting as ‘middle-brow junk’, ‘bad bad art’ and ‘one of those decisions possibly made after lunch’.
‘It exists to confer sophistication – there are nudes! There is vigorous brushwork! We are worldly bohemians! – but in fact confers the very opposite.’
His final judgment: ‘Politicians shouldn’t mess with art.’
These words have set off a massive debate on art and nudity and politics in the best British tradition. An emerging photographer took a portrait of David Miliband and his wife in their living room for a competition. she got the idea from a frend and ran down, narrowly missing the scrum of reporters after Miliband announced that he was not standing for the Shadow Cabinet. the photograph was entered into a competition and won. wonderful news for the photographer Naomi Goggin, but unfortunately the focus has not been on her exciting win, but on the cavorting nudes behind her subjects.
On Thursday I got a text from a friend saying that the photo wasn’t the story. Instead, it was the painting that Louise bought for me (and a patterned cushion that I bought for her in Jordan) that are visible in the shot.
They were being used to prove how vulgar and lower-middle-class we were. Pathetic, really.
On Friday I read the article by Stephen Bayley in The Daily Telegraph. Bayley compared the painting to the revelation of a severed head in the laundry basket or a whip in the loo!
In other words, it was the equivalent of being found out as a murderer (Mr Miliband with the axe in the bathroom, in Cluedo speak) or a secret S&M practitioner. What is this guy on?
OK. The painting is not exactly a conventional still life of a bowl of fruit. It has a dozen nude women. They are dancing. The women look happy and free. They certainly don’t look as if they are worried about the prying eyes of Stephen Bayley.
They make us laugh. They make sure Louise and I look on the bright side of life. And when people say where did you get it, we tell them. Not Christie’s. Not the trendy Camden Market. Not any market at all, in fact.
Louise and I bought the painting for my 40th birthday five years ago. Mr Bay ley says that politicians shouldn’t mess with art. But what a give away! Sorry, Mr Bayley, I didn’t buy the painting as a politician.
This is a very eloquent response to the venomous comments of Stephen Bayley. click on the link to read more. I feel very sorry for the two artists caught in this political war, as they are the ones who truly suffer. Unlike politicians they don’t have the same armor and protection, they don’t expect this sort of attack. Naomi Goggin and the painter Michelle Dovey have been caught in the political crossfire. while they say all publicity is good publicity I’m sorry that their works are fodder in this political mashup. I particularly can’t believe this attitude of a country that still publishes centerfolds in their newspapers! I feel glad that Miliband has spoken out in defense of his purchases and on behalf of both artists. the line that makes me smile the most, however, is this friday’s nude quote…