Mark Wallinger joins Save the Arts campaign with new version of JMW Turner's Temeraire

By Culture24 Staff | 22 September 2010
A photo of a painting with a sign on it saying 25 per cent cut
Mark Wallinger's interpretation suggests how Turner's classic might look if the government pursues hefty funding cuts for the arts
A Mark Wallinger version of Turner's The Fighting Temeraire which slashes the 19th century masterpiece in a symbol of potential government arts cuts has become the latest addition to Save the Arts, the campaign by more than 100 leading British artists opposing the proposals.

The Turner Prize-winning artist ruins the painting, which Turner called "his darling" before donating it to the National Gallery, with a hack at the centre of the canvas, tearing back the work to reveal a 25% cut. "If 25% were slashed from arts funding the loss would be immeasurable," reads the accompanying text.

"I describe the cuts as a reckless adventure," says Wallinger, who won the 2007 Turner for State Britain, a replication of anti-war protests in Parliament Square staged at Tate Britain.

"In fact, temeraire means reckless in French and, by removing the obsolete ship from the scene, I am rendering the painting wreckless."

The Fighting Temeraire depicts the veteran warship in 1839, a year after it was sold by the Royal Navy having played a major role in Nelson’s defeat of the French at sea.

On the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar it helped win, in 2005, the exhibit was voted the greatest painting in Britain in a poll organised by BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

It hangs in the same National Gallery room as the runner-up, Constable's The Hay Wain, and goes by the full name of The Fighting Temeraire Tugged to her Last Berth to be Broken up.

Wallinger’s contribution follows a video by David Shrigley released on September 10 to launch the campaign, which will feature different responses each week ahead of the government’s expected budget announcements next month.

An accompanying petition addressed to the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, urges the coalition to resist "destroying the long-term achievement and social and economic benefits" created by arts funding.

Click here to sign the petition.
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