Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Heroes, villains and angry taxi drivers

The Chelsea Arts Club courts controversy with their Heroes and Villains exhibition


This summer the Chelsea Arts Club has chosen to exhibit 180 works by their most prominent members to raise funds for the Chelsea Arts Club Trust and the Artist General Benevolent Institution (AGBI). The exhibition’s title – Heroes and Villains – was bound to attract controversy but it has been because of the paintings on the front façade of the club’s Old Church Street premises that passions have truly been aroused.


Amongst the images displayed on the facade of the club is one of Tintin paired with Hannibal Lecter
Amongst the images displayed on the facade of the club is one of Tintin paired with Hannibal Lecter
Another controversially features Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring with Jimmy Savile
Another controversially features Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring with Jimmy Savile

The exterior of the club has been decorated to reflect the theme and features pairs that include Anne Frank and Hitler, Hannibal Lecter and Tintin and David Bowie. This hasn’t gone down well with certain members of the public and in an email to their members, the Chelsea Arts Club’s secretary, Dudley Winterbottom, stated:


“I don’t agree with the view of the taxi driver who exclaimed: ‘they’ve ****ing vandalised the place’, but enough Members have expressed a desire for a bit of visual peace of quiet for me to wish to give it to them until ‘The Last Party’ scheduled for September 28th. Which by the way implies that a replacement will have been found for me. We are interviewing all this month, and hope to have made an offer, subject to references and terms, in the first week of July”.


A third unites David Bowie and Myra Hyndley
A third unites David Bowie and Myra Hyndley
A fourth puts Anne Frank and Hitler together
A fourth puts Anne Frank and Hitler together

We at The Steeple Times love a bit of controversy. We urge the Chelsea Arts Club to reconsider. They should leave this thought provoking display up for as long as possible.


See the full show and bid here. For the first time, members of the public are allowed to view and bid on the lots at the Chelsea Arts Club and online. For further details telephone +44 (0) 20 7376 3311.



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  1. To be honest, if the taxi drivers drove enough times down the street or anyone for that matter they would know that Chelsea Arts Club changes its exterior every month with a theme. Some better than others but it is nothing new. Heroes and Villains is a fantastic exhibition with great names. Highly recommended.


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