The Arts Diary: Portrait of the actress as a young girl

Brooke Shields continues to be a concern for Sir Nicholas Serota, director of Tate Galleries. He says he is still in talks with the Metropolitan Police to resolve matters around the removal of a 1983 depiction of the actress, called 'Spiritual America', which was due to be displayed at Tate Modern as part of its Pop Life exhibition. It was removed the night before the show opened after a warning from Scotland Yard that the naked portrait of the then 10-year old, heavily made-up and damp from having had a bath, could break obscenity laws. Although the work by Richard Prince has been exhibited widely in America, including a recent outing in New York (with no major controversy whatsoever), Serota said that there had been greater sensitivity around such images in the aftermath of the Soham affair, when two young girls were murdered by a school caretaker. He says that the legislation is in the process of being clarified with the police, so that such incidences in the gallery can be avoided in future.

It's good to be free

The most left-field inclusion in the Stage 100 – 'The Stage' newspaper's annual list of the most influential figures in the UK theatre industry – must be the temporary venue Forest Fringe, a shoestring fringe outfit at the Edinburgh Festival offering free events, many of which are experimental theatre. It was described by 'The Stage' as "one of the artistic highlights of this year's fringe", an achievement all the greater given that Jonathan Mills, director of the Edinburgh International Festival, didn't make the cut.

Let's dance

Arlene Phillips, the former 'Strictly Come Dancing' judge and now general dance czar, admits she still watches 'Strictly' (with the volume turned down at times), because she writes columns on the celebrities dancing every week. Speaking of her illustrious new role as the government's dance advisor, she believes there is a dance renaissance afoot in Britain, "very similar to the one we had in the 1970s", and that it is her job to get people dancing over the next few years. So, how does she keep fit? "I swim."

The lost opportunity, more like

The race for the Christmas No 1 book has been won by Dan Brown with 'The Lost Symbol'. How predictable. And a real shame that a Rage Against the Machine-style outsider did not pip the book (hailed by Waterstone's as "an unstoppable juggernaut") to the post. Perhaps India Knight, the 'Sunday Times' columnist and trusty blog champion of the fake auction catalogue and fiction of failed romance 'Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry', by the New Yorker Leanne Shapton, should have been nominated to launch an online campaign to knock Brown off the perch (it worked for Rage Against the Machine, although Joe McElderry is in the No 1 slot for the New Year).

All in the name of art (and finance)

Damien Hirst's financial portfolio suggests an artistic touch when it comes to his choice of company names. 'The Art Newspaper' revealed that among his companies is one called 'Overthesofa Ltd'. The clue to this title recently emerged when Hirst (right) said: "I've always thought at the end of the day art just goes over the sofa. You can't take it too seriously." He subsequently set up another company called 'Underthesofa Ltd'. Other companies registered at Companies House by Hirst include 'The Goose Wot Laid the Golden Egg Ltd', 'Victim Ltd', and the well-known 'Science'.

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Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)


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