Susan Morrison: Art critic short of horse sense

Sniffy art critic doesn't know his horse from his elbow. Picture: Johnston Press

Sniffy art critic doesn't know his horse from his elbow. Picture: Johnston Press

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A few years ago, Damien Hirst had an “installation” at the Botanics. It consisted of one of those electrical things that kill bugs, suspended above a table which had been covered in jam.

This attracted flies. The flies got zapped by the buzzy contraption, and fell onto the jammy table, where they got stuck, waving their legs about until they died. It was commentary about the futility of war. I think.

Art critics love that sort of thing. I mean, show them a canvas that someone has fired a pile of elephant dung at and they are happy bunnies. Critics know their stuff.

Jonathan Jones writes about art for the Guardian. He was sent north to give his art critic opinion of the Kelpies. He thinks they’re “rotten”. The Voice of Art has spoken, people. He says that they are “banal and obvious”. Oh yes, of course, Jonathon, you are so right.

Good grief, Falkirk Council was probably over-run with wannabe sculptors turning up on their doorstep to say, “You know what the M9 needs, a couple of giant horse heads, that’s what you want”.

Why, it’s such an obvious bit of work to knock up, no wonder people just drive by, hardly noticing. In reality, I worry that the Kelpies will be implicated in the first art-related car accident. There’s a constant stream of red brake lights ahead on the approach, with cars slowing to get a better look.

The Kelpies are stunning, they are outrageous, and they are impossibly over-the-top for a nation that values the modest. They would not look out of place in Spain or Italy, or even some remote spot in the Arizona desert, funded by some crazy billionaire.

But they are here, in Falkirk. They are a triumph of publicly-funded imagination, so away you go back to your fly-strewn tables and your tents embroidered with ex-boyfriends’ names and your piles of bricks.

This is great public art, and the great public loves it, which is probably why a sneering art critic hates it.

Oh, and one tiny detail, Mr Jones. It’s great that you’re so knowledgeable about art and all, but I think you should have done a bit of research. They are kelpies. Not Clydesdale horses.

Small matter, but, as we say in Scotland, that gives you a bit of a showing up.

Tear we go, tear we go . .

SPEAKING of Scottish reserve, in Andy Murray we had absolutely everything we needed in a Scottish sporting hero. Craggy jaw, steely stare and the personality of a cardboard box.

And that was fine for us. None of this flamboyant nonsense on the court, or tearful speeches for us, thank you very much.

No, Andy was a man of few words, and it seemed, fewer emotions, one of which was “grumpy”.

But now Andy has found the waterworks, and as one a nation has fallen in love with him. The lad can barely appear in public without breaking down. The mothers of Scotland twitch to find the hanky to blow his nose and wipe his tears, but to get to him, you’d have to get past Mama Murray, and I suspect that’s something that’s not going to happen easily.

Good stuff, young Andy, a bit of emotion never goes amiss. I look forward to the entire Scottish international football team bursting into tears when they lift a World Cup. Well, we all do. We just don’t expect it any time soon . . .

Unconcerned by the noise about Moyes

UNTIL Tuesday I had no idea who David Moyes was. I know, where was I living? Under a rock beside the Kelpies?

He used to run Manchester United. He was fired. I know he was fired because I was driving up to and back from Aberdeen. I had the radio on.

The coverage was wall-to-wall. It sounded like a cataclysmic disaster was unravelling, when in fact the story can be boiled down to ‘Man Loses Job In Manchester’.

Even I started to get worried about Manchester’s chances in the Champions League next year, and I don’t even know what that is.

Now, I do feel sorry for him. Being unemployed in Manchester can’t be fun, but he’s getting a payout rumoured to be £5 million, and I imagine a box of Quality Street from the folk in the office. It’s not all bad news.