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Transcript of podcast by Sacha Craddock on 'Hero Worship' by Grant Foster

Introduction: Having written for both The Guardian newspaper and The Times, John Moores 25 juror Sacha Craddock is a well established art critic. Here she provides her response to Grant Foster's prizewinning painting, 'Hero Worship'.

Sacha Craddock: I suppose the first thing I want to say about this painting is that it seems to be a sort of gathering of mass and material. So the paint is not only describing something, it actually is something, almost as if it's a relief or a slightly sculptural element. But of course it is a painting, just a mass of material brought together. And then in a way the subject seems to emerge from the materiality of the paint.

The interesting thing about the face is that the actual volume is carved out of the mass of the hair so it's a sort of back to front sort of making of space and taking away of space. In terms of subject matter there's a sense of someone perhaps slightly fake, slightly sad, slightly propped up, a sort of, a doll, a toy soldier, a tin-pot person, a sort of frightening element but is also sort of rather tawdry and tired. The epaulettes, the uniform is very, very perfunctorily suggested by paint shoved onto the very wet surface. I presume that a lot of this was done sort of fairly quickly or while the material was still obviously wet, I mean it's almost as if it's never going to be dry I imagine.

The hair therefore is real hair and also paint as hair and so there's this sense of something. In paint when you talk about painting you talk about paint being the descriptive but also being material itself and that's not often in painting that you come across that these days, it's a bit of an old kind of formal concern. The face is sort of skeletonal so it's almost as if this tin-pot dictator has come out of a sort of frightening series of paintings of Soutine but also looking back to early Cézanne. Sort of murderous skeletons, even earlier to early, early Van Gogh, of skeletons playing cards, a kind of sense of a northern overrun tawdry world. Perhaps also looking a bit to George Grosz, to a sort of political comment on a sort of hopelessness on the folly of grandiosity.

And then of course people will talk more about Michael Jackson and so on and there is this sense of the record cover or pop language as well. And here we are in Liverpool thinking about Sergeant Pepper, strange outfits, stupid policemen, jokes, cartoons, 'Beano'. All this kind of tin-pot construction of power that's actually been eaten away. Almost as if the face had been gnawed away at, the actual materiality has been taken away by the worms and you have this kind of folly.