Friday, November 28, 2008
... from this week's issue, out now:
Cartrain is a 16-year-old graffiti artist who creates Banksy-style stencils and collages containing such recognisable figures as Mickey Mouse, George Bush, Clint Eastwood and the Queen, none of whom have ever objected. Damien Hirst is a 43-year-old, Turner prize-winning, world-famous artist whose work For The Love of God, a platinum cast of a human skull set with 8,601 diamonds, sold for £50million last year.
Cartrain recently made a series of collages which featured, amongst other things, photographs of Hirst’s sculpture. Some imposed the bejewelled skull over the faces of figures taken from other photographs. One showed it sitting in a shopping basket alongside a bunch of carrots. He displayed them in the online gallery 100artworks.com, where the average price for one of Cartrain’s collages is £65.00.
He was contacted by the Design and Artists Copyright Society, acting on the direct instructions of their member Damien Hirst, informing him that he had broken the law by infringing Hirst’s copyright. Hirst demanded that he not only remove the works from sale but “deliver up” the originals along with any profit he had made on those that he had already sold, or face legal action. The DACS, who refused to comment on the matter when contacted by the Eye, duly took delivery on Hirst’s behalf of four collages by Cartrain on 12 November. They still await the cash the teenager made from sales of his work, which his gallery say is “around £200”. Until it arrives, Hirst will have to get by on the £95.7million he made in September in an unprecedented direct auction of his own artworks, held without the involvement of middlemen because he felt that “there’s a hell of a lot of money in art - but the artists don’t get it.”
Critics, meanwhile, see interesting influences in Cartrain’s work – including that of Hymn by Damien Hirst, who in May 2000 donated an “undisclosed sum” to charity in lieu of his royalties on the £1m sale of the work to Charles Saatchi after toymakers Humbrol objected to the fact it was a direct copy of their Young Scientist Anatomy Set. Or of the Fermat spiral of circles at fixed divergence of approximately 137˚ which mathematician Robert Dixon developed, exhibited at the Royal College of Art, and published in his book Mathographics, only to find it reproduced with Damien Hirst’s name next to it in the Guardian several years later (see Eyes 1086 and 1104). Or indeed For The Love of God, which not only closely resembled a range of skull jewellery sold by Butler and Wilson (see Eye 1186) but also bore a strong resemblance to works by his former friend and co-exhibitor John LeKay, who told the Times last year that “I would like Damien to acknowledge that ‘John really did inspire the skull and influenced my work a lot’. Damien’s very insecure about his originality.”
LIZ JONES WRITES - AND CHICKENS DIE
How is the Eye’s favourite columnist Liz Jones getting on in the country retreat she documented her move to so thoroughly back in December (see Hackwatch, Eye 1201)?
Well, she has adopted some chickens who had formerly been in a battery farm. In February this year she described the poor animals as “bald… covered in blood. Their beaks were misshapen. They were so weak they could barely stand, let alone walk or grasp a perch.”
The good news is that a mere nine months later, after tortuous negotiations and the involvement of the Press Complaints Commission, Jones’ paper the Mail on Sunday agreed to print a letter from the Battery Hen Welfare Trust which pointed out that “the ex-battery hens Liz Jones collected from us in January 2008 were generally in good condition, not ‘covered in blood’ nor ‘almost pecked to death’ as she wrote.” Founder Jane Howorth, who prides herself on her good relations with the farming industry and the fact her organisation will “never knowingly allow a hen to go to a new home with health problems,” pointed out that “her sensationalist article only illustrated how shock tactics and negative spin achieve nothing – it directly damaged farm relations resulting in the loss of thousands of Ex-Bats, hens we could have homed.”