Coales' Notes: Naming no names: Brush up your image with Gordon Coales

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The Independent Culture
MONDAY We're having a crack- down. Today Di passed me some 'guidelines', to be circulated round all our visual artists:

'Ars Longa is not a middle-man for the display of artworks. It is first of all an idea - an evolving vision of the arts within a changing world. Our commitment to your artistic freedom is total. The presentational and site-placement facilities we offer you are unparalleled. In return, we require from you a complete engagement with our vision. This means:

1. An Ars Longa show is not an experiment. It is a fully integrated visual event, developing further the Ars Longa idea. Your own work is only one component. Any work which fails to respect the event as conceived will be removed from the site, and may be destroyed.

2. A private view/opening is not a free trough for you and your friends. If you do wish to attend (alone), remember that many business sponsors are understandably revolted by the appearance and behaviour of artists on these occasions. A suit - or traditional smock-and-beret - are the appropriate dress. A smile costs nothing.

3. The interpretation of work is not the business of the artist. The independent making of 'statements' by artists has in the past resulted in misunderstanding and occasionally derision. Specifically, do not speak to members of the press except with an Ars Longa Project Co-ordinator present. Then keep it short and keep it simple.

4. Ars Longa retains absolute control over every aspect of its visual programme. This includes your body, ie it would be quite unacceptable for you to be photographed without permission. Ars Longa also asserts the right from time to time to review the 'image' of its associated artists.'

This brought us into line, she said, with the best of current practice in the private sector. I said, 'High time, they had it coming' - but I wondered how someone like Alan was going to respond to this. She said she had 'someone like Alan' specifically in mind.

WEDNESDAY I had a call from Alan 'in confidence'. He said he had received a 'deeply sinister' document from us - and also a 'profoundly offensive' postcard, addressed to him personally, which gave a list of names and invited him to consider one of them as a possible replacement for his own. He said they were Marcus, Jan, Primo, Neville and Crow.

I made sympathetic noises - though on the other hand, if one does happen to be called 'Alan', I think one might consider it.

FRIDAY Today Di said to me: 'Gordon, I've been thinking - have you got any other names, apart from Gordon?' I said absolutely not, never been called anything else, couldn't imagine being called anything else. She sighed.