Friday, 3 July 2009

Michael Shields: the injustice continues

Very disappointing news yesterday, with Justice Secretary Jack Straw denying a pardon to jailed Liverpool fan Michael Shields.

For those who don't know, Shields was jailed for 10 years in Bulgaria following an attack on a barman there in 2005. But he has always maintained his innocence.

Despite the fact that another man has admitted carrying out the attack, but won't testify to that effect, Straw has concluded that he has to be sure that Shields is both morally and technically innocent before granting a pardon and that he can't give one where he doesn't have that certainty.

This is a disgrace. When someone else has confessed to a crime, the morally and technically correct course of action is to make redress to anyone wrongly convicted of involvement in that crime.

With this decision, Jack Straw is colluding in a miscarriage of justice. He would be more correct to call himself the Injustice Secretary.

UPDATE: If you wish to show your support for Michael Shields, you can do so here.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

A superb portrait of Hockney

Last night's Imagine on BBC1 provided a fascinating picture of one of Britain's greatest artists, David Hockney.

It followed him over a three-year period, covering his move back from Los Angeles to his native Yorkshire. It also showed him at work for the first time and provided a real insight into his creative process.

The programme showed enough of his work for us to be able to see what a truly exceptional artist Hockney is. From the sun-drenched pictures in LA, through his experiments with photo collage and on to his excellent Yorkshire landscapes, Hockney has been a real artistic star for a long time. I can think of few artists who have produced such quality of work in such a range of styles over such a long time.

The only jarring note came when Damien Hirst was asked to comment on a monumental series of canvases which Hockney had created for the Royal Academy. Hirst's response was: "Well, I wouldn't have it on my wall."

Of course you wouldn't, Damien. That's because you're an artistic charlatan who hasn't let a fundamental lack of talent stop you from becoming very rich from your mediocre art. You're not fit even to clean Hockney's brushes. In a few hundred years time, people will still be looking at and admiring Hockney's work, whereas Hirst will just be a footnote in art history - "He made HOW MUCH from selling that stuff?"

But Hirst's yawn-worthy opinions aside, I recommend that anyone with a love of art watch this programme. It's an excellent portrayal of a master artist.

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