A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Allegory of good and bad government

Being a local government geek I couldn't resist a holiday visit today to Siena's beautiful 13th century town hall, the Palazzo Pubblico, to see Lorenzetti's "Allegories of Good and Bad Government".

This 1338 fresco was commissoned to remind councillors of the effects on the city of the conduct of their duties.

The panels showing "bad government" look remarkably like Hackney in the 1996-2001 hung council period - a tyrannical figure at the heart of the borough, uncollected rubbish, discord and strife in the council chamber, poor street lighting, potholes, probably outsourced revenue and benefits to the private sector, etc.

The "good government" ones are in turn rather similar to Hackney under Labour since 2001 - justice and wisdom prevail at the town hall, leading to clean streets, effective recycling, new public buildings and civic happiness. I think I could even spot a mediaeval Tuscan trading standards officer prosecuting a market trader for using the wrong weights and measures.

Cllr Smith and I have bought a print of the "good government" allegory to sit on our living room wall and remind us of our civic duties. Cllr Smith suggests that as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad Hackney artists - perhaps Banksy? -  should be asked to compete to produce a modern version of the fresco for our own town hall.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Tolose le Plot said...

It would have been perfect for the hoardings on Reading Lane around the building site. The "artwork" on them is very naff

8:54 pm, October 29, 2008

 
Blogger Martin Meenagh said...

Rather funny that, in Lorenzetti's psychomachic depictions, the left represented that which put the body and soul at war; which is why he put 'bad government' on the left wall, and divided good government on the right.

You'll have noticed on one of these right wing divisions peasants happily taking their asses to market whilst others just watch the wealth sail away, and this must have similarly pleased the gilded oligarchy that ran the republic of siena. Not like Hackney at all!

Did you also notice that the painting is one used to prove the existence of the sands of time, because it shows them running out of an hourglass a couple of hundred years before people saw such things? Thought you were upbeat about Labour? I am, a little....

And since when does Reading Lane building site remind your readers of Siena? I'm intrigued. Hope this visit doesn't count as council business, Luke

9:18 pm, October 29, 2008

 
Blogger kris said...

"justice and wisdom prevail at the town hall, leading to clean streets, effective recycling, new public buildings and civic happiness".

What have I told you about drinking and blogging?

7:07 am, October 30, 2008

 
Anonymous alexander said...

I do hope you've developed a sense of humour, because if you mean this seriously you're in need of profession help.

11:40 am, October 30, 2008

 
Anonymous Clapton Ali said...

Come come Luke, you should be making comparisons betwixt the current Hackney administration (and your goodself) and Italian culture of some one century later than Lorenzetti's - namely Nicolò Machiavelli. His works, in particular, The Prince sum up your ethos to a Tee, n'est-pas?

Further to the lovely Cllr Smith's suggestion that, as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, Hackney artists - perhaps Banksy? - should be asked to compete to produce a modern version of the fresco for our own town hall, please inform her that a long queue would be formed to accomplish such a task. However, as the vast majority of the artists resident in Hackney would probably prefer to use spray paint on the Town Hall exterior she might be more inclined to withdraw the invitation.

6:29 am, October 31, 2008

 
Anonymous Clapton Ali said...

Sorry, I meant this link.

6:39 am, October 31, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you enjoy the fresco, you should check out a new book that has it as wrap-around cover art. Its called "Global Democracy and Sustainable Jurisprudence."

Its definitely "good government" oriented

12:08 am, September 12, 2009

 

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