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Thursday, 25 April 2019 11:43 pm

Saatchi dropped as art lecture topic after his behaviour towards Nigella


ON DISPLAY: Art historian Barry Venning gives his theory on an entry for the Turner Prize

BRITISH art guru Charles Saatchi’s rough behaviour towards his wife, super foodie Nigella Lawson, got him dropped as the subject of a recent public arts lecture in Wellington.

Public reaction to news of Mr Saatchi grabbing his wife’s neck in a restaurant in June prompted Te Papa Tongarewa museum to drop him as the subject of one of its art talks, Friends of Te Papa spokeswoman Elizabeth Ridder said.

The original talk had been titled ‘Charles Saatchi – Modern Medici’ but British art historian Barry Venning, the visiting lecturer, talked instead about ‘The Turner Prize,’ a British art competition in which Mr Saatchi has had a considerable influence.

“Much of the content the Turner Prize overlaps, but in a context that we can be comfortable with,” Ms Ridder said.

Mr Venning said his take on it was that “scandal is the lifeblood of the Turner Prize”, though he did not mind the last-minute change of topic.  He understood the request as a decision made out of respect for women.

The lecture he did deliver, The Turner Prize, was an account of previous winners and nominees since the competition began in 1984.

It was loaded with jokes, anecdotes, and witticisms, and the audience in the near-full Te Papa lecture theatre responded well.

An earthquake was felt during 90-minute lecture, but Mr Venning continued his presentation without pause.

“I definitely felt the earthquake but did my best to not let it show. I guess that worked,” Mr Venning said.

Mr Venning’s tour included 24 lectures in New Zealand and Australia on Mr Saatchi, the Turner Prize, and other art topics.


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is a Whitireia journalism student covering the Mount Cook area in Wellington. He has a BA in Political Science and Media Studies at Victoria University of Wellington.
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