Days after The Independent published his stark condemnation of Damien Hirst as a "con artist" whose art is "worthless" financially and artistically, Julian Spalding was yesterday barred from entry to the Tate's Hirst exhibition.
Spalding, who was director of the Sheffield, Manchester and Glasgow galleries, had turned up at Tate Britain at the request of the BBC and two German TV stations – only to be informed that the Tate would not allow the interviews. He told The Independent: "The BBC reporter, Brenda Emmanus, came out and told me... 'I told them that I wanted to bring you in and they [Tate staff] went ballistic. They said he's not allowed to give an interview in the Tate' – which is extraordinary... I had to be interviewed outside.
"It's sinister. The Tate's job is to encourage debate about art... The fact that I'm not allowed to talk about the work in front of [it] is extraordinary. This Gallery does not belong to the Tate [management]. It belongs to the people of Britain."