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Death of a Curator (BBC2)

Illuminations Production, November 1999

Duration: 3'15"


Darren Coffield: The idea of taking art into what he [Joshua Compston] would call working class situations and being with the people, most people just thought was quite laughable, and to many people he was a laughable character. A lot of people did laugh at him. And then, as soon as he died, there was a huge sea change, which started to happen with the funeral. And I found it quite amusing that there were people at that funeral, the moment after it had ended, who were in the pub with me, who had been really fucked off with him over the years and had quite a lot of animosity towards him, but were now kind of revering him as if he was some sort of cult figure or a prophet. But it was all a bit too late really, wasn't it.

Max Wigram: The guy was amazing. I had to organise the funeral with his mother and various other people, and all these people suddenly come in and say oh... you know I want to carry the coffin, and paint the coffin, and do this, and stuff... people, who never paid any attention to him while he was alive really. But you can't blame them. A lot of people do blame them. And a lot of people blame them because Joshua was in danger of becoming a sort of patron saint of losers.

Darren Coffield: The thing that made him unique was that he went and did his own thing. And he completely believed in it. He was completely convinced that it would work, and what really upset him was that no one else believed it. And no matter how hard he tried, no one would buy work from him, listen to him, take any notice of him, and people just derided him because he was willing to stand out in the crowd. And I think what the Art World needs is a few romantic heroes. We could do with a few of them; we could do with a few less capitalist, moneymaking artists and a few more romantic heroes. That's for sure.

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