Art critics DON’T hold back their disdain for Diana statue branded a ‘spiritless hunk of nonsense’


A new statue of Princess Diana at Kensington Palace looks like Ken Barlow, a radio presenter has claimed.

TalkRADIO DJ Kevin O’Sullivan compared the monument to the classic Coronation Street character on his show last night.

His comments came as art critics panned the sculpture as ‘an awkward, lifeless shrine’ and a ‘spiritless hunk of nonsense’ in withering reviews.

Some said creator Ian Rank-Broadley made her ‘look grumpy’ and his work ‘doesn’t capture her magic’.

But one, who admitted it was ‘a little twee and far from perfect’, welcomed the fact it looked like the late Princess of Wales.

Princes William and Harry unveiled the statue to their mother yesterday afternoon in their public meeting since Prince Philip’s funeral in April.

The design was top secret and appears to be inspired by Diana’s official 1993 Christmas card – her first sent without Prince Charles.

But rather than depict her with her boys as she appeared in the card, she is posed with three children – two of whom are not wearing shoes.

One of the boys in the statue appears to have short afro-style hair. The palace said ‘it represents the universality and generational impact of The Princess’ work.’

Art critics have laid into the new statue to Princess Diana after it was unveiled at Kensington Palace yesterday

DJ Mr O’Sullivan said the statue looks like Barlow during a phone in with art critic Estelle Lovatt.

She said: ‘It’s a bland, lifeless, soulless sculpture. She looks like she’s been doing press ups and showing off her cleavage.’

And the presenter simply replied: ‘It looks like Ken Barlow.’

Meanwhile today’s newspapers were full of reviews of the statue and many were also critical of how Diana is presented.

Jonathan Jones, writing in the Guardian, was scathing of the design, branding it: ‘A nauseating, spiritless and characterless hunk of nonsense.’

He said: ‘It is a religious image that shamelessly plays up to the most mawkish aspects of Diana worship.’

And he added ‘for the statue group’s emotive symbolism is undermined by its aesthetic awfulness’.

Jonathan Jones, writing in the Guardian, was scathing of the design, branding it: 'A nauseating, spiritless and characterless hunk of nonsense'

Jonathan Jones, writing in the Guardian, was scathing of the design, branding it: ‘A nauseating, spiritless and characterless hunk of nonsense’

Alastair Sooke in the Telegraph was equally disgraced by the monument, saying it was ‘less Madonna, more warrior in a piece of kitsch with a Soviet touch’.

The paper’s chief art critic said: ‘Broad-shouldered, thin-hipped, eyes narrowed, shirt defiantly unbuttoned, his Diana is combative and confrontational, not maternal.’

He added: ‘Instead of dogs or deer scampering about at her feet, she has three sprogs – rendering the ensemble, at a stroke, as pure kitsch. There’s a slightly Soviet vibe to the group, too.’

Alastair Sooke in the Telegraph was equally disgraced by the monument, saying it was 'less Madonna, more warrior in a piece of kitsch with a Soviet touch'

Alastair Sooke in the Telegraph was equally disgraced by the monument, saying it was ‘less Madonna, more warrior in a piece of kitsch with a Soviet touch’

It appears to be inspired by Diana's official 1993 Christmas card - her first sent without Prince Charles - where she wears the same outfit open shirt and skirt as she smiles lovingly at her two sons

It appears to be inspired by Diana’s official 1993 Christmas card – her first sent without Prince Charles – where she wears the same outfit open shirt and skirt as she smiles lovingly at her two sons

Meanwhile the Times’ critic gave the memorial in London just two stars in her verdict.

Rachel Campbell-Johnston said: ‘Laura Ashley monument is little better than the usual tat.’

She said ‘Diana deserved much better,’ adding: ‘This statue is, aesthetically speaking, so horrible.’

Meanwhile the Times' critic gave the memorial in west London just two stars in her verdict

Meanwhile the Times’ critic gave the memorial in west London just two stars in her verdict

Rather than depict her with her sons as she appeared in the card, she is posed with three children - two of whom aren't wearing shoes. The palace said 'it represents the universality and generational impact of The Princess' work'

Rather than depict her with her sons as she appeared in the card, she is posed with three children – two of whom aren’t wearing shoes. The palace said ‘it represents the universality and generational impact of The Princess’ work’

The Express’s view on it was less withering however, with sculptor and painter Shenda Amery complimenting it on looking like the Princess.

But she said ‘I think it doesn’t capture the magic or the feeling of her,’ adding: ‘The actual design of it doesn’t hang together somehow.’

In the Daily Mail, art historian Robin Simon also saw the similarities between the statue and the late Princess.

He said he thought it was not worse than ‘some truly hideous statues’ of her, but added it was ‘a little twee and far from perfect’.

In the Daily Mail, art historian Robin Simon also saw the similarities between the statue and the late Princess

In the Daily Mail, art historian Robin Simon also saw the similarities between the statue and the late Princess

He added: ‘This is no soppy girl. There is even a hint of masculinity. That should not be a criticism. This is a strong and capable woman.’

The Sun asked Royal expert Ingrid Stewart for her thoughts on the statue for an opinion piece for the paper.

Writing about Princes William and Harry, she said: ‘The statue represents the very best about their mother — her ability to relate to the very young and the needy.’

The Express's view on it was less withering however, with sculptor and painter Shenda Amery complimenting it on looking like the Princess

The Express’s view on it was less withering however, with sculptor and painter Shenda Amery complimenting it on looking like the Princess

Prince Charles was not present at the ceremony yesterday, which was changed to a ‘private event’ instead of the large celebration as originally intended. 

The move to scale back the unveiling was largely due to bad blood between the brothers and Harry’s determination to control media coverage.

The statue was in situ for a week prior to yesterday’s unveiling, but was hidden away from prying eyes under a black crate.

Although the public and media were excluded, crowds gathered in Kensington Gardens, where the late princess liked to jog and even roller-skate, keen to feel part of the day. 

Much to the surprise of the crowd, Diana’s siblings – brother Earl Spencer, and sisters Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes – quietly walked in front of the palace, apparently searching for the way in.

They glanced at the well-wishers before their presence started to cause a stir – and police officers ushered them in.

At 1.32pm – just 28 minutes before the ceremony was due to start – Harry was waved through the gates in a chauffeur-driven car.

By the time he parked and walked through the cobbled palace courtyard towards the Sunken Garden, which is in the public area of the palace (as opposed to the private apartments where William and Kate live – as Harry and Meghan once did), he would have barely spent ten minutes with his elder brother. 

In fact, sources said he was greeted not by William but by James Holt, a former press officer at Kensington Palace who has since defected to the Sussexes and now heads up their Archewell Foundation.

Waiting on the newly turfed lawn – next to the statue covered with a billowing green silk drape – were the Spencer family, who glanced up as William and Harry appeared from the Orangery area.

The brothers made a point of walking in together, safe in the company of Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton. 

It was a smart move. Once their principal private secretary, ex-Special Forces officer Mr Lowther-Pinkerton, who is godfather to Prince George and whose son, Billy, was a pageboy at William and Kate’s wedding, is discretion personified and trusted by both men.



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