Our arts correspondent, BELLA BARTOCK, on some withering criticism of the borough’s street art from a leading social commentator
Jonathan Meades, the widely respected commentator, has called Croydon Council leader Tony Newman “laughably gullible” and described the street art which has been paid for by the local council as “crass”.
Meades made the remarks in a letter to Private Eye, the fortnightly satirical magazine, after it reported that the television film-maker had reason to pursue Croydon-based art dealer Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison for the return of some artworks he owns.
Zuchowski-Morrison is a former bankrupt who previously ran the Rise Gallery on St George’s Walk, from where he used tens of thousands of pounds from the council to commission various artists to paint murals on the sides of buildings around the town centre.
Council chief exec Jo “We’re Not Stupid” Negrini regularly wheeled out Zuchowski-Morrison at public events, in this country and abroad, in an effort to “artwash” the borough’s regeneration projects.
French-based Meades is described on his Wikipedia profile as “brainy, scabrous, mischievous,” “iconoclastic” and possessed of “a polymathic breadth of knowledge and truly caustic wit”.
In his letter to Lord Gnome, Meades calls Zuchowski-Morrison “the tricky art dealer”. He writes that, “for reasons that remain incomprehensible, he refused to return [the artworks] till I threatened him with legal action”.
And Meades adds: “I have no doubt that he’ll continue to be indulged by the laughably gullible leader of Croydon Council and will continue to get his hands on public money to inflict more of his crass street art on that hapless borough.”
Following a launch at the end of last year staged in the offices of council-owned builders Brick by Brick, Zuchowski-Morrison is now operating from premises on Dingwall Road.
Croydon is to be London’s Borough of Culture in 2023.
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