Pandora: Artistic response to de Menezes death

Alice-Azania Jarvis
Friday 28 November 2008 01:00

Eating a swan, catapulting a pensioner into space and scratching 50 gleaming cars with a single set of keys: Mark McGowan's portfolio is nothing if not varied.

Now the zany performance artist tells me he is preparing for another stunt, this time protesting about the lack of response to the death of Jean Charles de Menezes.

"There is so much apathy," he explains. "People are distracted by things like the X Factor and Christmas, so I'm doing this as a reaction."

McGowan has decided to re-enact the killing, in which the innocent Brazilian was shot dead in 2005 by armed officers with the Metropolitan Police who believed him to be a suicide bomber, at Stockwell Tube station. All the actors involved in tomorrow's performance, he says, will wear cardboard boxes to cover their faces.

"It's an artistic response to something that should never have happened – especially from the police."

One organisation that isn't sympathetic to McGowan's cause is Transport For London. McGowan says that they have sent him a letter asking that he refrain from the demonstration.

"They've said that if I didn't, then they would send the transport police down," says the artist.

"We simply can't let him proceed," confirms a spokesman for the transport authority.

Stand by for fireworks...

Tamsin fills her boots with swag

A lesson in surviving the credit crunch, courtesy of former EastEnder Tamsin Outhwaite.

The sultry starlet, who has been absent from our television screens since the birth of her baby in June, arrived promptly for the launch of London's new Ugg store on Wednesday night – only to exit 10 minutes later, arms loaded with designer swag. "It's a gift from Ugg," explained one store attendant.

"We've been giving them to some celebrities and she pre-ordered."

Not everyone was so lucky.

"It's all for women!" cried The Office star Martin Freeman, who appears to be taking the economic downturn rather badly. "Ricky [Gervais] and Steve [Merchant] were the only ones to get a cut of The Office's profits so I need keep working. People are getting more and more cautious in what was already a cautious business."

If only Kenneth read faster

Kenneth Branagh is both the star and co-producer of the BBC's new detective series, Wallander, based on Henning Mankell's cult literary hit.

But Branagh told me his earlier attempts at becoming a producer did not always work out – even if he could spot a hit.

"About a thousand years ago in the 1980s, a friend of mine was working in a bookstore and he sent me a Roddy Doyle novel and told me I should read it.

"I loved it so much that I decided to try and buy the rights – but when I phoned I was told I was too late by an hour.

"Alan Parker had just snapped up the rights, and that work was The Commitments."

Mark keeps up the demand

Spare a thought for Mark Foster – it seems that life as an international sports star can take its toll on a chap. The hunky swimmer recently outshone by John Sergeant in Strictly Come Dancing, tells me that he has been inundated with career options since returning from the Beijing Olympics.

"The thing is," he muses, "when you have someone who has been massively successful like me, swimming or whatever for such a long time, people ask you to do all sorts of things. And I need to earn. I've got to make a career for myself some way."

Tough life, isn't it?

No welcome home for Kilroy

Robert Kilroy-Silk may have been booted out of I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!, but it hasn't stopped the sniping from colleagues in Brussels.

I'm told a coalition of MEPs has thrown its weight behind an online campaign, Kilroy Step Down, which seeks to get the boisterous politician to resign from the European Parliament.

"He hasn't been working the entire time he was in the jungle," one explained.

Jonathan a fan of Channel 4

No doubt Jonathan Dimbleby's colleagues at BBC News will be thrilled with his performance at Wednesday night's VSO Stars of Africa event.

Addressing the crowds alongside a towering Jon Snow, he announced, "We all know Jon's 7 o'clock Channel 4 News is the best news programme there is!"

Not such a company man after all, then.

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