Wales politics

Kim Howells sounds off on Welsh art and identity

Good morning. It's just possible you may have had better things to do with your weekend than watch or listen to our output or monitor twitter.

If so, to ease your guilt, here's a couple of things you may have missed from the weekend news coverage.

Radio 4's Today took former Culture Minister Kim Howells on a tour of Wales's new National Museum of Art. He was rather more complimentary about its contents than he was about previous entries for the Turner Prize. You can listen to some of his views about art here.

Dr Howells, who retired as Pontypridd's Labour MP last year, is enthusiastic about the new addition to the arts scene but would like to see a new Welsh national gallery built.

"I'd like to see some of these huge office buildings that the Welsh Assembly's built - I'm not sure what they do because there's only three million of us living in Wales - they're all over the place, they're in Aberystwyth, they're up in N Wales they're half way up the Valleys. I'd love to see some of those turned into beautful galleries."

Food for thought for the Welsh Government there - and, for the rest of us, from his views on Welsh identity:

"Wales is obsessed with its identity, that's its problem, we don't make things any more in Wales. We're all about Welsh studies and about examing our own navels and what is Welshness?

"I'm not particualry interested in that. I don't think Richard Burton was ever interested in whether he was a confused Welshman or not, or whether Tom Jones is, and I don't see why painters or sculptors should be either.

"We've ought to stop worrying about identity and get on with taking on the intellectual challenges of the 21st century, of which of course art and creating art is part."

The intellectual challenges of the 21st century seem to have taken a back seat as the scandal at the News of the World has developed.

You may have missed this weekend tweet from Bethan Jenkins AM: "Has anyone out there ever considered that an AMs phone could have been hacked??"

I'm no Yates of the Yard and have not run this past Rebekah Brooks but I suspect that a best-selling newspaper that prospered through exposes of dodgy vicars, troubled ex-royals, corrupt international cricketers and philandering football stars could probably cope without the latest gossip on the Barnett formula and legislative competence orders challenging for front page prominence.