Durham University under fire for art spending spree - including works by Picasso and Warhol

 

A top university has been criticised for spending £1.4 million on art including works by Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol while it charges students £9,000-a-year and pays hundreds of staff less than the Living Wage.

Durham University added to its collection of fine treasures when it kitted out the new administrative Palatine Centre in the historic city, the Law School, the Mountjoy Centre and a library extension.

Pieces were specially commissioned, and some North East artists' work is on display, along with the Warhol and Picasso pieces.

Unison, the public sector workers' union, said the expense could not be justified by the university, which is one of the top 100 in the world.

John McDade, of Unison, said a survey had showed 555 workers were paid less than the Living Wage, which currently stands at £7.45 an hour.

"We are not saying art is not important, but it is about priorities," he said.

"You wouldn't go out and buy a chandelier for your house if you couldn't afford to feed your family."

He said while Durham University may claim the art enhanced its reputation, he believed low pay rates detracted from it.

The university was understood to have opposed a Freedom of Information request from the Palatinate student newspaper to reveal the cost of the art, on security grounds, though that was overturned after a review.

Last year thieves broke into the university's Oriental Museum and stole Chinese items worth more than £2m.

A Durham University spokesperson said: "Durham University is a custodian of many fine treasures and developing our collections of graphic art and sculpture for public display was an essential part of the original concept for the Palatine Centre.

"Some of the artwork was specially commissioned and reflects the University's academic strengths and the heritage of our region.

"The works that can now be viewed in the Centre, in the adjacent Law School and nearby public spaces represent a rich and varied presentation of 20th and 21st century art.

"The University organises free guided tours of the collection and staff, students and members of the public are encouraged to come and enjoy it.

"The Palatine Centre was part of the wider £60m Gateway Programme, funded through a mixture of capital grants from the Higher Education Funding Council, University reserves, property disposals and bank borrowing."

The spokesperson said more than £1.1m of the cost of the art was funded by savings from the "capital programme as a whole".

PA

News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
News
news

Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck

News
Gywneth Paltrow proposed that women seek out a special herbal steam-treatment service
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Film director Martin Scorsese
film
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Data Analyst - Essex - £25,000

£23500 - £25000 per annum + Training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Data analyst/Sys...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Account Manager

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Account Manager is r...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Manager / Sales Executive

£18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Account Man...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee