FLASHERS AT THE NATIONAL
By Luke Winter
* * *
"We’re not supposed to talk about it. But the policy was changed three weeks back and don’t see how they’d be able to reverse it now."
"And has it got louder?" I ask.
"Har har", his eyes flash, "Oh most definitely. What with their clicking of shutters, louder. And who wants to see that red beam all over the painting that you’re looking at? And they look less at the paintings now that they’re allowed cameras, as if by taking a photo they’ve conquered the painting, but they’ve not looked at it, whereas before they’d stand and try and claim some little victory of comprehension, even if it was just reading the information plaque. But the vast majority don’t really know how to use their cameras and so you get a lot of flashers."
He grins, “No flashing in The National”.
[I’m thinking of The Dreamers as they thought of Bande à Part and running round the Louerve hand-in-hand.]
"Have you ever had flashers?" I ask. "Like, were there ever flashers in The National?"
"Well about once every five years" he laughs, "It’s a public space. So you get all sorts in here don’t you."
Assenting might seem too eager. I stay a-thousand-mile-stare, and after a pause, nod.
"But I mean it saves us getting into trouble all the time with visitors, telling them that they can’t be taking photos, and of course they say, ‘Well where does it say that?’. And you can’t very well say to them, that the management, some of the management, without much intelligence decided that they were against signs of any kind. And oh yes, you’re staring at one of my favourites. Truly remarkable isn’t it. Beats any of the other paintings in this room. I’d put it above the Monet’s."
September, The National Gallery, London