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

News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
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

Volunteer Mentor for people who have offended

This is an unpaid volunteer role. : Belong: We are looking for volunteers who ...

Cover Supervisor, Folkestone School - full time and part time

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We have urgent and multiple vaca...

Welsh Speaking German Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£115 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Full time WLM German Supply T...

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher - French

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Modern Foreign Language Teach...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?