Bob and Roberta Smith Challenges Michael Gove’s Parliamentary Seat

Patrick Brill AKA Bob and Roberta Smith has decided to run for Parliament against the former British Education Secretary Michael Gove, at the next general election in May. Smith was an active voice against Tory party policy which proposed to phase out art subjects from the British GCSE program in an effort to put the 3 r’s back as core curriculum. The proposal infuriated the arts establishment, including high profile individuals such as Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota and the architect Richard Rogers.

The artist has purchased a camper van decorated it in his trademark style with slogans about the arts importance quoted from the residents of Surrey Heath. Brill feels that even though Mr Gove vacated his post as Education Secretary, following a Cabinet reshuffle in July, to become the Tory’s chief whip, he is running against him as the “architect” of the policies that have marginalised arts in schools. Brill states; “He has become a fulcrum to say the arts are really important in this country,” he said. “It’s a chance to say a lot of positive things about the arts rather than just bashing politicians.”

Art politics has been central to Bob and Roberta Smith’s work many consist of placards with slogans about cuts to the arts. Brill says, “all schools should be art schools”. In 2011 he set up The Art Party movement with filmmaker Tim Newton, to “better advocate the arts”. The Art Party Conference held in 2013 was an antidote to all other conferences. It wasn’t aligned with any political party but an opportunity to celebrate art and artists and acts as a forum for debating the future of the arts in today’s climate of spending cuts and changes to the education system. The Art Party hopes to influence decision makers to listen and to think again.


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