Niru Ratnam

Niru Ratnam, Gus Carter and Graeme Thomson

20 min listen

This week: Niru Ratnam argues that teachers are putting principles before children (00:59), Gus Carter discusses the curious business of fertility (08:14), and Graeme Thomson reviews Beyonce at Murrayfield Stadium (14:24).  Produced and presented by Oscar Edmondson. 

Why are my son’s teachers constantly on strike?

It is a bright Wednesday morning in May. My son, T, a Year 8 pupil, should be at school and I should be working, but instead we are playing tennis. We are also listening to ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by Dire Straits because he’s supposed to be studying the play in class so I figure I

March of the makers

Until earlier this year, a squat sculpture nestled rather unobtrusively outside 20 Manchester Square in Marylebone, an address once made famous by the cover of a number of albums by the Beatles. The building has since been renovated into smart, slightly anonymous offices and the sculpture suited it. Few knew that it was a work

Ai Weiwei

In September, the Royal Academy of Arts will present a solo exhibition of works by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. This follows his installation of porcelain sunflower seeds in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, a solo show at Blenheim Palace and two solo exhibitions at the Lisson Gallery (which represents him). Peculiarly, the Royal Academy’s press

The rise of the art fair – and the death of the small gallery

In 1967, two Cologne-based gallerists came up with the Cologne Art Market — a trade fair where German galleries could set up temporary gallery-style spaces for a few days to showcase their stock. The following year, three dealers in Basel copied the idea but opened up their event to international galleries. For years these two

When Britain’s avant-garde weren’t so shouty

When the New York art dealer David Zwirner opened his London gallery in October 2012, observers expected him to make a statement of intent. Zwirner, who the magazine Art Review placed at number two in its 2013 Art Power 100 survey, is one of the art world’s most important three gallerists (the others are Larry

How to fight back when ‘public art’ is not for the public

In recent years contemporary art and regeneration have gone hand in hand. Works such as Antony Gormley’s ‘Angel of the North’ have been visible and celebrated examples of regeneration. So when, last year, Southwark Council decided to sell Elephant and Castle’s seemingly unloved Heygate Estate (above) to Lend Lease for development into new homes, it

Do you think this painting is worth $48.4 million?

Earlier this year a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, depicting two figures stoned on the hallucinogenic drug PCP, was offered for sale at Christie’s in New York. ‘Dustheads’ was given an estimated sales tag of $25–35 million. In the end, the hammer came down at $48.8 million, a sum that easily broke the previous record for

The boom in private museums

In the past ten years museums of modern and contemporary art have proliferated around the world. New institutions have appeared in Los Angeles, Venice, Doha and Beijing. Even Camden has seen a burst of activity — the Dairy Art Centre opened in April of this year, spread over the 12,500 sq ft of a former

The new seekers | 14 February 2013

Over the past year or so, art world insiders have queued up to denounce the current state of the contemporary art world. Charles Saatchi started the ball rolling with a column at the end of 2011 in the Guardian. Breaking his self-imposed ban on interviews or writing, he launched a withering attack on an art

Go with the flow

Last November Lutfur Rahman, the independent Mayor of Tower Hamlets, confirmed that the borough intended to sell a Henry Moore sculpture entitled ‘Draped Seated Woman’ (1958–9) that had been historically sited in the borough. Rahman’s reasoning was twofold: the sculpture was too expensive for the council to insure and the money raised from the work’s

Revolting teenagers

As 200 children descend on the Savoy, Niru Ratnam asks why corporations sponsor works of art In July, 200 teenagers from east London will head to the Savoy where they will take over the Lancaster Ballroom for the day. There they will be given the freedom to create a large-scale event — food and performances

Losing its edge

Last November the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles held its annual fund-raising gala. Previously the event had used the tried-and-tested formula of wheeling in celebrity hosts such as Lady Gaga to try to persuade the great and good of Los Angeles to part with cash to fund the museum’s programme. This time, however,