Gordon Brown hangs 'deeply gloomy' paintings on his office's walls

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London, July 5 : British Prime Minister Gordon Brown seems to have a "deeply gloomy" taste when it comes to choosing artwork for the walls of his office and flat at 10 Downing Street.

A hand-coloured lithograph by Howard Hodgkin entitled 'Blood', and the depiction of dark Scottish hills 'A Scottish landscape' by Norman Ackroyd, are among the pieces of art that Brown hangs on the walls.

The Prime Minister has also picked up a series of 19th century hand-coloured woodcuts from the alphabet series by William Nicholson, which include the 'V is for Villain', the 'E is for Executioner', and the 'R is for Robber'.

The collection of paintings also includes a 17th Century portrait by Rowland Lockey of Mary Queen of Scots, who was tried and executed by the English for treason, and a 2006 screen print of the Euro single currency in gold leaf by Justine Smith.

Art critic Alastair Sooke said that the pictures owned by the Government Art Collection seemed to suggest that Brown had taste that was "impeccable but also conventional, and not in the least risk-taking, intrepid or inspired".

"Collectively these works of art trumpet something else too: in a time of economic crisis, Brown hasn't picked massively expensive pieces. Here is a man who wants us to applaud his fine judgment and cultured discrimination, but also his modesty and lack of ostentation," the telegraph quoted him as saying.

"There is no doubt that overall a gloomy tone prevails which puts one in mind, unfortunately, of old cliches about dour Scots," he added.

Details of the art collection were forced out of the secretive Prime Minister by Eric Pickles, the shadow Communities and Local Government secretary, in a series of Parliamentary Questions.

"The overall impression of Mr Brown's choice of art is of a man in touch with his inner gloom," he said.

"No doubt the Prime Minister lies awake at night staring at his euro portrait and thinking of the 3 billion pounds of taxpayers' money he wasted on propping up the single currency using Britain's gold reserves," he added.

A spokesman for 10 Downing Street said that some of the artworks predated Brown's appointment as Prime Minister last July, though she did not confirm whether Brown had chosen any of them personally.

"The Government Art Collection advise on the pictures to be hung in 10 Downing Street. The pictures are changed periodically as those loaned to the house are returned to the collection from which they have been drawn," she said.

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