Charles Saatchi's search for a new talent to promote came to an end on TV last night here in the UK. BBC2's School of Saatchi ran for three weeks during which time we saw a host of young art students whittled down to a final group of six. They each had to install their own works in various given locations. The elusive Saatchi (never seen on screen during the show) viewed the works privately and communicated his views back to the artists via his coterie of trusted advisors.
For much of the series I considered the eventual winner, Eugenie Scrase, to be something of a fraud. I don't think I was alone. Like far too much contemporary art her work was generally laughable.
Her final entry however, and the one deemed to have tipped the balance in her favour, was a section of tree trunk that had fallen onto a garden rail and impaled itself. She spotted it while out walking in a London suburb and arranged for the section of railing and trunk to be transported to the Saatchi museum - the location of the group's final installation challenge.
It was certainly an eye-catching piece and something that was fascinating to look at. It was without doubt her most interesting piece but the nagging facts remain: she didn't create the piece, and she didn't see anything that anyone else with an artistic eye wouldn't have immediately appreciated. Would it be unkind of me to suggest the fact that she is a beautiful young girl worked in her favour too?
One of the judging panel, Tracy Emin, made the point that Scrase did something most others would not have done in actually having the wherewithall to go and knock on the right doors to arrange ownership of this 'found object.' So what? I think if I was in the last 6 of a TV show I'd have had the motivation to do that too. It'll be interesting to see how Scrase develops now with the patronage of Mr. Saatchi secured. I wish her well though the show as a whole didn't do an awful lot to win me round to the joys of contemporary art.