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.