Letter: The point of view of a complete dummy

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The Independent Online
Sir: In her article (28 May) about the artists' opening in the Challenge of Materials Gallery of the Science Museum, Ruth Padel plods a comic path that is brutally cliched in its angry clumsiness. Her central attack was on the performance made by Brian Catling, which was not a solo work as suggested. I can only assume that she did not see me at all. I was the one sitting on the artist's knee sharing his text and microphone, sharing the wonders of the handmade mysteries in the new gallery.

She may well be right about the artist taking himself and the subject too seriously - God knows what an appalling crime that is. What is disturbing is her editing of my part in this "humourless" event. It is not many dummies with turnip heads that get to make sober work. I considered my dignified, if somewhat wooden role, to be both profound and moving.

The Science Museum programme of working with artists is both bold and exemplary and is the subject of much positive discussion. Many forms of critical and creative awareness will grow from it - that is what makes these spilt dregs of uninformed comment so wearisome. However we must enjoy the sweeter grapes, and hope that, in the future, many of the wordsmiths Ms Padel mentioned find their appropriate and deserved opportunities.

BRIAN CATLING'S VENTRILOQUIST'S DUMMY

Oxford

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