The Diary: LSE's arts lecture; Yann Martel; Ekow Eshun; Magne Furuholmen; Paul Schrader

Friday 10 July 2009 00:00 BST

A stand-up guy

The most amusing part of the arts lecture at the London School of Economics this week, at which the director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor and the Tate director, Nicholas Serota, expounded their theories on the future of museums in the 21st century, was arguably the introduction by Howard Davies (right), the LSE's director, who performed a mini stand-up routine. Introducing MacGregor to the crowded auditorium, he said: "I'm glad to see him at a time when he hasn't lost his marbles," referring to the Elgin marbles, which the British Museum still refuse to hand over to the new Acropolis Museum. "We have a lot of Greek students here," he continued, to a burst of astonished laughter across the room. He then aimed his wit at Serota, saying that when he had been the interim chair of the board of trustees at Tate, "I liked to fantasise he [Serota] was working for me. That's not true. He has never worked for anyone."

Word shares

Yann Martel, the Canadian author best known for his Booker prize winner 'Life of Pi', is launching the world's biggest "readalong" to mark the reissue of the book about a tiger stranded at sea with an Indian boy. Readers from 35 countries have signed up for the event in August (you can too at Martel is believed to be penning a new book about the colourful journey of a monkey and a donkey who live on a shirt, which will deal, metaphorically, with the Holocaust. The book is rumoured to be published next year.

Elevate yourself

Ekow Eshun, director of the ICA, and latterly, chair of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, said he may well apply to stand atop Antony Gormley's empty plinth for his hour in the sun. "I wouldn't mind being there at 3am in the morning... it's about being alone in public, a public space for solitude and contemplation," he said. Neil MacGregor, the British Museum's director, was less keen, saying that "I spend enough time dodging the pigeons of Trafalgar Square," before swiftly adding that it was a "brilliant idea" and hailing it as "Twitter art".

Art is as easy as ABC for this pop star

Magne Furuholmen, from the pop group a-ha, is to unveil a series of paintings called Alpha Beta. His artwork will show in October at the Paul Stolper gallery in London. The pieces are apparently based around the Norwegian alphabet, not entirely unlike Peter Blake's typographical works. The keyboard player, whose father was a jazz musician, has apparently been painting for years. Much of his work has been bought and displayed in his native Norway. "With my visual work, just like with music, I work with composition and rhythm, association and atmosphere," he said. He is not the first 1980s pop star to turn to paint. Only recently, José Maria Cano, from the band Mecano, unveiled his own fine works at the Riflemaker. Feels like a growing trend.

You singin' to me?

The screenwriter Paul Schrader, best known for writing the script for the brutal 1976 masterpiece 'Taxi Driver', has turned his attentions to the (relative) glitter and froth of Bollywood. He revealed: "I've written a Bollywood script with song and dance and everything. It's a cross-cultural crime drama – an American comes to Mumbai... gets caught up in its crime underworld." Speaking in Nottingham, he cast aspersions on his compatriot screenwriters: "Writers do like to complain. Writers are perhaps the most overpaid complainers in the arts. The grossly overpaid, put-upon man."

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