It may look like a sardine tin in a steel wash tub but …

It may look like a sardine tin in a steel wash tub but …

First it was bricks, then a Polaris submarine built from tyres.

But the hit of 1984 was ‘Toy’; a sculpture by Richard Wentworth.

Toy by Richard Wentworth
Toy by Richard Wentworth

‘Toy’ is a galvanised steel wash-tub which has been filled in with metal. Embedded in the metal is an opened sardine tin. The artist Richard Wentworth said that it  was a comment on the Falklands War and in particular the sinking of the Belgrano.

Art as we know is in the eye of the beholder. ‘I can hardly believe that even those who sit in judgement on these matters can believe that an old sardine can floating in a tub is art’: said Anthony Beaumont-Dark, Conservative MP for Birmingham, Selly Oak.

‘Has no-one told them,’ he continued, ‘that there are scores of sardine tins littered around Britain’s rubbish dumps. I would have given them a sardine tin for no more than £100 and saved them a tidy sum.’

He may have been referring to an Arts Council exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens where ‘Toy’ was being exhibited. It was priced at £600 and the gallery organiser said that at least 20 people had shown an interest.

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The first genuine piss artist

John Cousins, a New Zealand music lecturer brought his own form of musical performance art to his year’s Edinburgh Festival.

Entitled ‘Membrane’ it involves John Cousins drinking copious glasses of water and then urinates on a series of rubber membranes to create ‘drum-like’ sounds.

It is intended to last for up to SEVEN hours.

Best selling films 1984

Beverly Hills Cop
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
The Karate Kid
Police Academy
Romancing the Stone
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

Top Selling singles 1984
1 Frankie goes to Hollywood

2 Frankie goes to Hollywood
Two Tribes

3 Stevie Wonder
I just called to say I love you

4 Lionel Richie

5 George Michael
Careless whisper

6 Black Lace

7 Ray Parker Jr

8 Chaka Khan
I feel for you

9 Duran Duran
The Reflex

10 Wham

Top Selling Albums 1984
1 Lionel Richie
Can’t slow down

2 Various artists
Hits 32

3 Bob Marley & the Wailers

4 Wham
Make it big

5 Various Artists
That’s what I call music III

6 Michael Jackson

7 Sade
Diamond Life

8 Frankie goes to Hollywood
The Pleasuredome

9 Billy Joel
An Innocent Man

10 Various Artists
That’s what I call Music 4

Recommended Book for 1984

Written in 1948, 1984 Nineteen Eighty-Four is the iconic book of that year which gave birth to Big Brother and Room 101.

A word of wisdom to Winston Smith who tries to fight the system.

Don’t. Big Brother is watching you!

Notable deaths in 1984


1      Alexis Korner, British blues musician, 56

20  Johnny Weissmuller, American actor, 79

21   Jackie Wilson, American soul singer-songwriter, 49


15  Ethel Merman, singer/actress, 76

21  Mikhail Sholokhov, Soviet writer, 78


1   Jackie Coogan, actor, 89

5   William Powell, American actor, 91

12  Arnold Ridley, English playwright and actor, 88


1   Marvin Gaye, singer, 44

5   Sir Arthur Harris, known as “Bomber Harris”, 91

15  Tommy Cooper, British comedian and magician, 61


4   Diana Dors, British actress and singer, 52

19  John Betjeman, English Poet Laureate, 77

28  Eric Morecambe , British comedian, 58


7   Flora Robson, actress, 82

20  Jim Fixx, American jogger and writer, 52

26  George Gallup, inventor of the Gallup poll, 82

27  James Mason, British actor, 75


25  Truman Capote, author, 59


6   Ernest Tubb, American country musician, 70

17  Richard Basehart, American actor, 70


31  Indira Gandhi, 4th Prime Minister of India, assassinated, 66


15  Lennard Pearce, British actor, 69

24  Ian Hendry, British actor, 53

28  Sam Peckinpah, director, 59

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English not spoken here

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre’s Barbican Theatre was sold out for an appearance from the French actor Jean Louis Barrault, 72.

Unfortunately the audience were unaware that M. Barrault was to give the whole lecture in French.

To calls of: ‘I am very angry; I cannot understand a word of this. Get us a translator’ M. Barrault left the stage.

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