Exciting rebrands on the way for anarchism and sustainability
Ian Martin condemns the Stirling Prize fix
MONDAY. Ugh. That familiar post-Stirling feeling of nausea and anticlimax. For the umpteenth year in a row I didn’t win.
Don’t get me wrong. Nothing against my glamorous rivals, with their expensive ‘new branded identity and bespoke typeface’. If that’s what it takes to get the judges’ attention, so be it.
But I have an old-fashioned belief in the narrative voice of the auteur and the magic of form in space. OK, I don’t have slideshows with a live cellist and posh nibbles and champagne balloon rides for ‘an axonometric view in real time and space’. It doesn’t mean I’m less of an artist.
It’s a fix. I didn’t even make it through the regional heats with MY school, which is demonstrably better than the winner, described everywhere as an ‘effortless Z-shaped academy in one of the most deprived areas in Europe, partly funded by a hedge fund charity’. Pathetic.
My school project, Tamworth Latin Primery, is shaped like two adjacent bagels. Maximum flexibility. Two kinds of circulatory space (clockwise and anticlockwise) and a choice of ethos (‘faith’ or ‘left blank’). It’s also a free school, which is a notch above an academy; the board of governors reads like a guestlist for a Blur gig. It’s publicly funded, but with a substantial donation from a wealthy philanthropist with access to offshore capital i.e the chancellor of the exchequer.
What really irritates me though is the ‘effortless’ bit. I farmed out every single design job to subcontractors, at highly competitive rates. THAT’s effortless.
TUESDAY. Lunch with my extreme eco-activist friend Amy Blackwater. It’s her turn to choose, so we’ve come to a very cheap vegan restaurant in Essex.
I say restaurant. It’s really just a massive tarpaulin yurt in some squatted woodland. Amy and her crew are camped here to try and block a housing development, a test case for our new relaxed planning regime.
The activists’ lawyer wants the government to define ‘sustainable’. As in ‘developers should expect planning permission for whatever they want, provided it is sustainable’. Whitehall’s blocking, but they can’t dodge the issue for ever.
Lunch is disgusting. Wild veg, fungi, slime, moss and ‘edible accretions’ scraped into a bag and simply tipped onto your plate, insects and all. The ‘staff’ are impeccably sullen, smoking through their balaclavas. They’ve only been on site a fortnight, yet the restaurant is fully booked into next year. London’s smart set love it, as it makes even the most basic peasant food seem incredibly sophisticated. AA Gill described it as ‘bracingly feral’.
Then I notice Amy’s balaclava. It’s new. They’re all wearing them. Each carries a handstitched corporate logo: Now, Forager. Amy may even be blushing inside hers as she tell me of their plans to start a chain of Now, Foragers in protest camps throughout the country.
I make my excuses and leave. On the way to the eastern barricade Amy indicates an old door and some bricks improvised into a table. It’s covered in half-arsed trinkets and watched over by a tetchy boy rolling a spliff. The prices! Eighty quid for a conker on a bit of string! Wait, I’ve had two ideas…
WEDNESDAY. Firstly, I tell my friend Darcy Farquear’say the epic space correspondent about Now, Forager. Instantly, he italicises the second half of ‘anarchic’.
Secondly, I tell my friend Isis de Cambray the magic arborealist about the ‘defining sustainability’ problem. She reckons if we persuaded the Coalition to use her method of ‘listening to the Earth’ we could be quids in.
THURSDAY. Brainstorming with Isis. We’re suggesting the government issues sustainability certificates, but only for schemes covered by a Spiritual Impact Assessment.
As long as all indicators - both below ground and on the astral plane - show that the Earth is ‘happy’ about, say, a massive new ‘bio-town’ in the middle of the green belt: fine.
FRIDAY. Our contact at the Department for Communities and Bins loves it. Could we start framing our proposals? Yes. We agree a supernaturally high day rate.
SATURDAY. Auditions begin for spiritual impact assessors. Today we’re seeing necromancers, wizards, druids, wiccans, spirit dowsers and Iain Sinclair. Amazing – everyone wants a uniform.
SUNDAY. Paperwork in the recliner. The Creative on Sunday carries a piece on the hot autumn look: anar-chic.
‘Organic, rule-breaking, artisan, expensive…’ Dear God. Darcy’s in a sparkly balaclava.