The Diary: Damien Hirst; The Pitmen Painters; Guy Ritchie; Gary Giddins

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Case closed on the pilfered pencils

A détente has now been reached in the art war waged by Cartrain, the 17-year-old graffiti artist, against Damien Hirst. The teenager was arrested earlier this year for damaging a £10m Damien Hirst sculpture, after the multi-millionaire artist registered his displeasure at Cartrain's use of Hirst's skull motif in his artwork (and apparently demanded a share of the profits). In retaliation, Cartrain crept into the Tate and stole some "vintage" art pencils from Hirst's "Pharmacy" sculpture early this year (the pilfered pencils were apparently valued at £500,000). Cartrain told me that, happily, all police charges have since been dropped and that he's even had a meeting with the Tate to discuss the issue.What's more, he came face to face with Hirst himself at the latter's current show at London's White Cube gallery. Cartrain said: "He asked me if I was Cartrain to which I replied I was. He explained he was all right with all the publicity and that he wished to speak further. He seemed quite all right at the time but he did make a quick exit."

On the road

The cast of the Live/National Theatre's 'The Pitmen Painters', who performed across the country for eight weeks (before returning to London), told me all about their touring exploits. Michael Hodgson, Christopher Connel, Phillippa Wilson and Lisa McGrillis say they lived in a barrister's front room in Sheffield, a long boat in Milton Keynes and a £30-a-night hotel in Cardiff's red-light district. In Plymouth, Connel found a place to fly-fish, bringing his catch to the theatre so that co-actor Ian Kelly, could cook their meals.

Pedal power

A curious appeal for cyclists has been launched by the sound artist Kaffe Matthews. She has invited people who are reasonably fit and able to cycle non-stop in five-minute bursts to become part of her latest installation in Dalston, London, this Sunday. 'Invisible Dust', an audio work that will take nine hours to create through eight speakers, will be entirely powered by bicycle. Will we see those avid cyclists Boris Johnson, David Cameron or even Peter Mandelson, on his Brompton, at the event in east London?

Guy Ritchie owns up to boy-crush

Guy Ritchie is, by his own confession, besotted with Robert Downey Jnr, the American actor who is starring in his "buddy movie" version of Sherlock Holmes, even though he was quoted in 'Total Film' magazine's January edition as saying that he didn't think much of the actor's intellect or talent at the outset. Speaking about Downey Jnr's role as the opium-addicted detective (with Jude Law as Watson), he said: "It's true, I had reservations" but later effused: "I think I've probably got a bit of a crush on Robert ... I really love him!" Ritchie, a well-known "mockney" whose fake cockney accent has been known to veer precipitiously back to posh at any given moment, added a few commendations about Downey Jnr's mastery of the British accent.

Vonne-gutted by post from the past

The legendary New York jazz writer Gary Giddins reveals that he has kept all his fan (and hate) mail from the 1970s and '80s, including post from Ralph Ellison and a witty missive from Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut wrote to Giddins after he gave Vonnegut's novel 'Deadeye Dick' a lukewarm review in 'The Village Voice'. "I thought it was sub-standard and typically, Vonnegut made me feel guilty, by writing 'My best work is behind me now that I'm 60 years old'." In spite of the gripey letters, Giddins bemoans the onset of the age of email and the internet, since when all such post had dried up.