Tools of the trade

1 Spinning painting It's fun, messy and cheap. And Blue Peter thought of it before Damien Hirst
Click to follow
The Independent Culture
"You'd like to paint a picture? You don't know what to draw? Your troubles are over! Make yourself a Spinning Picture Machine like mine and become an instant artist."

It sounds as if Damien Hirst has elaborated on the theme of the Turner Prize video which showed him teaching children how to paint. For his beautiful, shattering, slashing, violent, pinky, hacking, sphincter painting (right), Hirst stood on a chair above a rotating circular canvas and flung and dripped household gloss paint across its surface. In his video he shows children how to do the same. It's fun, messy and produces great-looking paintings. One of Hirst's was included in "From Here" at Waddington's last year.

It comes as something of a surprise, then, to discover that the above advice comes not from the mouth of Hirst, but from one John Noakes, writing in the Blue Peter Annual for 1975. There's even a photograph of our Johnny (down Shep!) at work - albeit on a smaller scale - and an impressive selection of his paintings. No titles are offered, but you can imagine the sort of thing: lovely, quick, easy, amazing, wacky, cheap spinning painting.

"This gadget is a real money saver," says Noakes. Hirst's paintings sell for up to pounds 17,000. But using a six-volt electric motor, a piece of wood, rubber bands, paper clips and sticky tape, Noakes can produce "pictures of all kinds, and every single one will come out different!".

Could it be that young Damien has picked up on a half-remembered afternoon in front of the TV when, aged nine, he was impressed by the legendary maestro at work? Was the ultimate inspiration for the "greatest living artist" not Duchamp but Noakes? Is it just possible that on another Blue Peter special assignment Val Singleton showed us how to pickle a pet goldfish or guinea pig?

Forget the Turner Prize. The boy deserves a gold Blue Peter badge. Hello there, Damien. Here's one we made earlier. IG