The Diary: Mark Wallinger; Pink Floyd; Royal Opera House; John O'Farrell

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Wallinger and co teach them a lesson

An enterprising comprehensive school has transformed an old basement room next to the boiler into a trendy art space complete with artworks by Mark Wallinger, Banksy, Antony Gormley and Tracey Emin, many of which have been borrowed from staff members who appear to have original artworks at home (and one or two pieces borrowed from "local" galleries such as Hayward and South London Gallery). John Breslin, head of sixth form at St Saviour's & St Olave's School, said after a lick of white paint and ceiling lights, the old "tank room" was transformed. The premises manager – usually responsible for keeping the playground tidy – became the show's curator. A friend donated casts of street bollards by Gormley; a staff member had an Ofili print at home; another had a signed Banksy and the Turner-nominated Luke Hiorns lent a miniature version of his work, 'Seizure' (in which he has transformed a disused flat into a crystal cave). Oh, and Wallinger was due to turn up to the opening last night with a surprise artwork.


Pink Floyd, psychedelic music makers and one-time kings of the Underground, have now joined the establishment. Royal Mail is bringing out a set of postage stamps featuring Pink Floyd to celebrate the UK's 10 most popular album cover designs of all time. Expect to see the cover of the 1994 album, 'The Division Bell', which has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide (with the image of two giant metal heads) adorning your mail from 7 January 2010 – that is, of course, if the strike is called off by then.

Aria you serious?

Opera's attempt to get down with the hoi polloi appears to be going from strength to strength. First, the Royal Opera House offered its best seats to 'The Sun' readers. Now, it is launching a competition in which 20 of its 18,000 Facebook fans will be invited to attend the world premiere of 'Lime' by Wayne McGregor, on 4 November at Covent Garden. Scottish Opera, meanwhile, is giving two members of the public a chance to appear in Rossini's 'The Italian Girl' in Algiers, starring Karen Cargill, which opened this week in Glasgow.

Sign of the times for art petitioners

A petition circulating around London's art world has been signed by the likes of playwright Caryl Churchill, National Theatre artistic director Nicholas Hytner, Whitechapel Gallery director Iwona Blazwick, artists Antony Gormley and Zarina Bhimji, and Baroness Helena Kennedy. It is protesting against the new points-based visa system for international artists and entertainers to enter the country and has almost reached its target of 10,000 signatories (it has just under 9,000 so far) and is due to be delivered to Parliament in the next few weeks. It is most timely in a year which saw yet more musicians and artists denied entry into Britain – including the award-winning Iranian director, Abbas Kiarostami, and acts heading for the Womad festival.

Puppet masters pulling the strings

Comic writer John O'Farrell, originally responsible for the famously "grey" colouring of the John Major puppet on 'Spitting Image', said he proposed a two-headed puppet for the series, which would represent the "special relationship" between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. O'Farrell, whose latest book, 'An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain', was published this week, said: "Gordon Brown wasn't really a major character then but I do remember suggesting that we have one puppet with two heads, a bit like Zaphod from 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy'."