A twenty tonne lion has provoked heated debate in Scotland and prompted the resignation of the curator Richard Calvocoressi. Created by Ronald Rae, the benign granite sculpture has charmed visitors in Holyrood Park (opposite the Scottish parliament) since it was first exhibited there two years ago. However, when Rae offered the lion to the Scottish parliament’s unique art collection his gift was refused. Calvocoressi, who at the time was a key figure of the Scottish Parliament‘s Art Advisory body, suggested that the lion (valued at £120,000) would devalue the collection as a whole, as its “rustic folk-art qualities” were at odds with the collection’s ideals. Calvocoressi, who had been a member of the advisory body since 2005, suggested that the lion would be more at home in a business park than in front of the parliament buildings. The curator, who is head of the Henry Moore Foundation was disappointed to find his advice countered by public support for the lion – 2000 people signed a petition in favour of the beast and a number of MSPs backed Rae’s renewed offer to loan the lion on a temporary contract. Writing in the Observer last week
“Big Boi” from
OutKast has been busting a skank in the world of dance this week. The rapper’s new venture, Big, is currently being performed with artists from Atlanta Ballet. The performance, a multimedia extravaganza featuring local school children and videos, will incorporate OutKast tracks and an unreleased hip hop number titled “Sir Lucious Left Foot Saves the Day”. Working in collaboration with choreographer Lauri Stallings, “Big Boi” (also known as Antwan Patton) agreed to the work in the hope that it would broaden hip hop’s boundaries. Showing admirable open-mindedness and dedication to the cause, the star commented “I’m down to try anything once.” The marriage of hip hop and ballet is not the only unusual pairing to surface this week. The ENO has announced that they have appointed the Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami to direct a production of Mozart’s comic opera Cosi fan Tutte in 2009. Kiarostami, best known for Through the Olive Trees and Taste of Cherry is one of a sequence o f film directorswho have turned their talents to opera. Critics have greeted the trend with mixed reactions.However the late Anthony Minghella directed an ENO production of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly with great success in 2005. It is scheduled to be revived as a tribute to him next year.
Other arts news: Brigitte Bardot also courted controversy this week, when she was prosecuted after reportedly inciting racial hatred in a letter. The 73 year-old actress, who is now a passionate animal rights activist, wrote to the French government in 2006, criticizing the Muslim practise of slaughtering sheep without stunning them first. In a letter circulated to the Brigitte Bardot Foundation she wrote “We’re fed up with being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts.” A campaign of a more palatable kind was also launched this week in conjuction with the Teenage Cancer Trust: an orchestra of instruments constructed out of parts of Ford cars is going on tour support the charity. A track featuring Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford playing the “clutch guitar” is available online.