The Telegraph looks at Jack Straw’s office decoration budget:
Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, has spruced up his own workplace with a collection of expensive sculptures and paintings. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has spent almost £170,000 of taxpayers’ money on a series of contemporary artworks to decorate Mr Straw’s offices. [ . . . ] The money has been spent on four artworks:
– a tall latticed structure made of steel and wood, called Axiom and costing £42,500, installed in the atrium of the building and created by the sculptor Conrad Shawcross, who is the son of royal biographer William Shawcross and writer Marina Warner
– a series of coloured panels on four staircases in the building, each featuring two colours from a palette of 16. The work, by German artist Lothar Goetz, is called Round Trip and cost £53,000.
– a frieze made from oxidised and burnished brass, entitled “Paper Leaves and Concrete Trees”, by Glasgow-based artist Martin Boyce, which cost just under £26,000.
– A series of three “kinetic” sculptures, entitled “LP13”, created by Nathaniel Rackowe and costing £46,000.
Mr Goetz said his commission had taken him and several assistants a month to complete.
“This was my first major commission from the government,” he said. “The piece is one wall painting which is divided into 52 different sections which are displayed on landings across four staircases. It is all geometrical forms which have something to do with the architectural situation. No two panels are exactly the same.”
But Brian Caton, from the Prison Officers’ Association, which in a ballot last week overwhelmingly rejected Mr Straw’s proposals to change working practices and pay structures, said: “I’ve seen those panels on my visits to the building – I would have done it for them for a lot less, with a decent roller and a few pots of paint.
“What an absolute waste of taxpayers’ money to spend £50,000 on coloured panels going up the stairs.
“It is a total travesty at a time when we are facing such serious economic problems to throw money around like confetti in this way.”