Ken Livingstone was under attack this week from members of the London Assembly who have complained that an artist who helped fund the mayor's re-election has had his work exhibited at City Hall.
Bob Neill, Conservative group leader on the London Assembly, said: "An artist sells his work to fund the Mayor's re-election campaign. Four months later, the same artist holds an exhibition in City Hall. This is political patronage of the worst kind." Mr Kennard was one a group of artists, including Tracey Emin and Ralph Steadman, to donate work to be auctioned for the Mayor's campaign.
DEMO by Peter Kennard and Cat Picton-Phillips, which finished on Friday, saw the ground level windows of City Hall filled with rubble and anti-war placards.
Speaking ahead of the exhibition's opening, the artists said: "We wanted to create a powerful voice against government policy, which led to the war in Iraq. City Hall is an important public building available for the people of London. In recognition of the fact we want to make art that is not obscure and which communicates to the public on major issues of concern."
Last month UKIP London Assembly member Damian Hockney tabled the following question to the Mayor: "Was the Mayor responsible for the decision to place pictures depicting the Prime Minister and the US president as mad, blood-smeared war criminals in the front windows of City Hall? And what is his policy on giving public space to political statements masquerading as works of art?"
"I was very pleased to be able to invite London artists Peter Kennard and Cat Picton-Phillips to stage an exhibition at City Hall" replied the Mayor. "I think it is important for City Hall to be a venue for exhibitions and art that communicates directly to the public on major issues of concern. I do not believe it is the role of the Mayor to censor artists' work."
At the same meeting the Mayor was quizzed about the policy for exhibitions held at City Hall by Conservative Assembly member Tony Arbour. The mayor replied: "As the lease holder for City Hall, I am responsible for deciding which exhibitions are allowed in City Hall, all exhibitions at City Hall are signed off via the Mayor's Events Steering Group. The criteria for all exhibitions at City Hall is that they support key objectives outlined in the GLA's Business Plan. In the case of the Peter Kennard DEMO exhibition, they make the building a more interesting place to visit, whilst showcasing the arts and cultural life of London."
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