The Millennium Dome project exploded into lacerating hatred last week as its creative and political masterminds went public with their passions.
Designer Stephen Bayley, drafted in six months ago as creative director, resigned his £80,000 post with harsh words for Labour’s Peter Mandelson.
Bayley, the first director of the Design Museum and author of Sex, Drink and Fast Cars, is reported to have said that the project was run like a dictatorship and risked turning out to be ‘crap’. Referring to Mandelson’s visit to Disneyland, he quipped that if ‘Mandy’ went to a voodoo sacrifice in Brixton, he’d then insist on one in the dome.
For his part, Mandelson has denied the accusations of being a dictator, saying the project needed a strong grip to stop it drifting.
Neither man would talk to the aj. But a terse press release from New Millennium Experience ‘absolutely disassociates itself from the views expressed by Stephen Bayley. Mr Bayley’s former role was to advise the company on aspects of the content of the exhibition, not to create or decide it … In the light of his comments the company will not be asking him to undertake any further work.’
The clash is the latest dome fiasco and likely to be frustrating for Mandelson. He is said to be keen to rid himself of his Prince-of-Darkness image, but is uncompromising in his ambition to make his millennium mark.
The £750 million project is beset with bad publicity, secrecy and spiralling costs. Plans for a £250 million extravaganza by Sir Cameron Mackintosh were dropped last month, as were those for an auditorium.