We scour the media each week for our favourite stories around the innovations, campaigns and voices which are keeping arts and culture alive. The cultural sectors our team promotes including books, visual art, architecture and design, museums and performing arts remain resilient despite the current crisis.

A surge of power

British sculptor Marc Quinn has taken a guerrilla approach to public art, mounting his new work onto the vacant plinth previously occupied by the statue of the infamous slaver Edward Colston. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and realised in black resin and steel, Quinn’s statue depicts protester Jen Reid doing a black power salute. Erected at dawn by Quinn’s own team, without the knowledge of Bristol City Council, it has divided opinion in the art world and beyond. Whilst the sculpture itself was praised by author Bernadine Evaristo for centring black women, artist Larry Achiampong suggested that the commission should be given to a black, Bristol-based artist.

Gatsby: the prequel

On 1 January 2021, the copyright for F Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic novel The Great Gatsby will expire. It is no coincidence that 5 January has been announced as the publication date for a prequel, penned by Michael Farris Smith, which will explore the origins of Gatsby’s unreliable narrator, the unassuming Nick Carraway. Simply titled Nick, the book will be published by No Exit Press, who hinted at a “redemptive journey that takes him from a whirlwind Paris romance-doomed from the very beginning-to the dizzying frenzy of New Orleans”. The quintessential American novel is a hard act to follow, so we hope Farris Smith is up to the challenge.

Mind the rat

Banksy also went undercover this week as a member of TFL’s cleaning crew to create his latest work – a series of rats on the London Underground. The stencils depict the creatures struggling with masks and hand sanitiser and sneezing over the carriage, which many have interpreted as a comment on the ongoing importance of taking safety precautions on public transport. Although the work was removed by TFL due to its anti-graffiti policy, it made a powerful statement about our collective responsibility for public health.

A fringe for our times

Edinburgh Fringe festival has announced its online programme for 2020, following April’s news that the Fringe would not take place as usual this year due to social distancing restrictions. The digital Fringe will consist of ‘Fringe on a Friday’, a ticketed and streamed weekly variety show, ‘Fringe Pick ‘n’ Mix’, where performers can upload 60 second clips for viewers to discover, ‘Virtual Fringe Central’, an online hub for panel discussions, workshops and network sessions, and a ‘FringeMakers’ crowdfunding campaign to support artists and venues. The programme can be viewed here.


Image credits

*Clockwise from top left
Marc Quinn/ Artnet
Michael Farris Smith/ Inside Hook
Banksy/ NME
Fringe/ The Times