The Prime Minister's has a speeding theme...but what about the rest of the Cabinet's?

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Each new Government gets to decorate their offices from the Westminster art collection. Andy McSmith reports

Some people would question whether it is art at all. Visually, it is about as interesting as a railway ticket. The colour is an off shade of Liberal Democrat orange; the medium, enamel car paint on aluminium, with the words looking like a crude incitement to break the law.

Entitled 31 mph a crime?, the work is by Eva Weinmayr, a German artist, who specialises in creating arresting images from the discarded debris of London life.

This example is doubtless inspired by some ill-designed advertisement or poster she will have seen, by a group of motorist who care more about their right to speed than about the safety of others.

The picture is part of the government art collection and is destined to adorn the wall of the flat above 11 Downing Street, where David Cameron and his young family live.

One of the perks of being in government is that you can choose the paintings you want in your office – or in your grace and favour home, if you have one – from the vast collection built up by governments since the Victorian era. It is thought to contain 2,500 oil paintings, as well as countless more modern works, predominantly by British artists.

In her day Margaret Thatcher went for traditional art by Turner and Constable to beautify 10 Downing Street. John Major – or was it Norma? – liked Hockney. Tony Blair went for something riskier – Damien Hirst, the bad boy of BritArt. Gordon Brown and Sarah Brown went in for a safer, blander collection of landscapes.

Perhaps it is Samantha Cameron, who had a wilder past than her husband, who decided that the risky Weinmayr number is a suitable image to be seen in Downing Street.

"Good question that," a Downing Street spokesman said, on being asked why the Prime Minister is exhibiting a work that questions whether motorists should be expected to observe the law. He added; "Surely, the answer must be 'Yes'."

Through the ministerial keyhole...who favours art like this?

Victor Pasmore, Points of Contact No 27

Pasmore, who died in 1998, was an art teacher in London and then Master of Painting at Durham University. He executed a series of silk screen prints with the generic title "Points of Contact", several of which were up for auction in Bloomsbury two years ago at starting prices of around £500. So, think of a Cabinet minister who is not trying to be fashionable; who is not interested in being able to boast to visitors about the expensive painting on his wall; who may even be feeling that he is lucky to have this privilege at all.

Grayson Perry, Print for a Politician

Grayson Perry thought it was a great joke when the government bought his 7 foot 2 inch etching. The minister who has borrowed it no doubt thinks there should be a very big picture on his wall because he is a very big figure in government, but is he aware of the artist's own explanatIon: "As human beings we have a tendency to rationalise our impulses but that can lead to a lot of bullshit. As soon as one group feels like they have a monopoly on righteousness then we are in trouble"? Let us hope so.

David Hockney, Winter Road near Kilham

A moot point is whether this is an original Hockney or a reproduction. The septuagenarian artist has discovered that computer technology is now advanced enough for him to be able to create works of art on screen and print them off. In a sense, therefore, the original exists only virtually, in the computer's memory. But there is nothing virtual about the minister who borrowed it. He is the solid type you find out in the community, not picky enough to care that the work on his wall is a computer printout.

Unknown artist, William Cecil, Lord High Treasurer

When the artist finished it, he perhaps rewarded himself with an evening at The Globe, to watch a Shakespeare play being performed by the original cast. William Cecil was the greatest English statesman of his day and the painting was bought by the government 60 years ago, when the minister who now has it on his wall was a lad. Someone who thinks the words Lord High Treasurer describe what he used to be.

Thomas Gainsborough, William Pitt (1759-1806) Prime Minister

We would all like to be able to say we have a genuine Gainsborough on our office wall, but a portrait of a Prime Minister? A Tory Prime Minister, celebrated for achieving high office at an unfeasibly early age? You have to be a bit of a political obsessive to want William Pitt staring at you. Of course, if you were so intrigued by Pitt that you felt moved to write a biography of him...

Click on the gallery above to see which politician chose which of these pieces of art

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas