Saturday, 10 October 2015

“We go to the gallery” is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read

Our son recently returned from a brief trip to see a friend who lives in Liverpool. It was his first visit to the city, which he loved. He and his chum seem to have spent most of their time visiting art galleries (the place has evidently changed a bit since I was last there in the '70s). On their visit to Tate Liverpool - which got a rave review - he picked up several art books, including a slim volume entitled We go to the gallery, published by Dung Beetle Learning. It looks like an old Janet and John Ladybird book, which got the author into trouble with the publishers, which in turn led her to make a number of changes to it. As the title suggests, it’s about Mummy taking John and Susan to a typical modern art gallery, where they are confronted by some typical examples of conceptual “art”.

It’s only 46 pages, so it doesn’t take long to read. It is so funny, it almost gave me a hernia, and I can't recommend it highly enough - it is a work of genius. The author/artist, Miriam Elia, spent her childhood being taken to similar galleries by her artist parents. She went on to study art, but after a while just found herself laughing at the sort of ridiculous crap she was being invited to admire. She is now a comedian. You can hear her being interviewed about the book on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, here.

There’s no need to analyse what the book means - it’s patently obvious to anyone who (a) possesses even the tiniest scintilla of a sense of humour and (b) isn’t a member of the arts establishment. As GCooper recently commented in another context, there isn’t enough piano wire in the world…

We go to the gallery is available for £6.29 on Amazon, here. It’s hard to think of a more perfect Christmas stocking gift.


  1. Thank you for the recommendation (not to mention the namecheck). I have the ideal recipient in mind...

    1. I'm finding it difficult to think of anyone I know who wouldn't enjoy it - at least, anyone I'd send a Christmas present to.