Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Whitechapel Gallery KO's Tim Atkin MW's photos

Po-faced gallery staff removing Tim Atkin MW's photos

The invitation to Tim's top 50 Argentine wines + exhibition of his photos

A small showing of Tim Atkin's photos taken during a visit to Argentina last December alongside a tasting his Top 50 Argentine wines at The Whitechapel Gallery was this afternoon KOed by gallery staff. The problem appears to have risen because the showing Tim's photos was described as an 'exhibition' and the showing of the photos had not been sanctioned by the gallery. 

Tim put up the photos this morning in the private room hired by Wines of Argentina and tweeted that he was very excited:

Early this afternoon Tim was informed by the Gallery's events manager that the photos, which Tim had spent two hours putting up, would have to come down as this wasn't an 'officially sanctioned exhibition'. Tim then put the photos behind the wines. Unfortunately this still broke the rules and in a very petty and childish action the gallery staff insisted on taking the photos away again. After all the event was private with guests being signed in.

 A photo propped behind the wines...

... now on its way out... 

'Totally bonkers' 'Jobsworth central'  

Removing more of the offending photos

A seething and glum Tim Atkin MW showing one of his photos during the tasting

Safe I think to assume that Wines of Argentina will not be rushing back to The Whitechapel Gallery for an event and probably not any other wine trade event organisers. Rather than worry about a few photos, the Gallery staff's time would have been better occupied mending the air conditioning, which had apparently broken down. This made the smallish room along with the often very butch Malbecs uncomfortably warm.   


Message sent today from Ronald Atkin, Tim's father:

For the attention of Iwona Blazwick, Director of The Whitechapel Gallery

Dear Iwona Blazwick

I attended the above tasting at the Whitechapel Gallery yesterday, along with 300 others, and was shocked to find the photographs of Argentina and Argentinians which accompanied the tasting being removed by members of your staff on the spurious grounds that they constituted an exhibition which had not been officially approved.

I would have hoped such Jobsworth attitudes might not have percolated down to organisations such as yours. I am sure that somewhere in the Gallery's rules there exists a sub-section VIII which would explain - but certainly not excuse - the crass and rude behaviour of your staff towards Wines of Argentina, the company which rented the room from you, and Tim Atkin, the highly-respected Master of Wine who travelled to Argentina to judge the wines and whose photographs of that trip were deemed unworthy of being looked at.

Since the other parts of the Gallery, from my own observation, were certainly sparsely attended yesterday the fact that your staff managed to insult and alienate so many people could be deemed a PR disaster of Titanic proportions. As a journalist myself, I can imagine the headlines now - "The Gallery Where You Can't Show Pictures". Ridiculous.

Yours sincerely
Ronald Atkin
father of Tim Atkin, Master of Wine


Latest news (17.30, 10th May 2012)
Tim's 20 photos from his December trip to Argentina will be exhibited at the Kensington Wine Rooms, W8 from Monday 28th May. 



Lalau said...

And how di I know that his blog of yours is not a covert photo exhibition? I see so many photographs on it.

Funny, I thought this king of nonsense only happened in subsidised French institutions...

Jim Budd said...

A regal comment Hervé!

flavourflavor said...

Well I'm not so sure about all this "outrage". The Whitechapel is a serious and established institution. Whatever you may think of the current exhibitions the current artists have established themselves over many years and the selection process is rigorous. Putting up your own photos in such a gallery is not just cheeky but disrespectful to the artists there.

If you want an analogy what would Tim say if someone brought a bottle of their own wine and plonked it down with the other wines being tasted? With the greatest respect Tim's Photography is a sideline to his main work as a respected wine journalist, I personally don't have much of an opinion on it other than I'd rather read what he has to say on wine than listen to him promoting his own photography. His reaction is a little over the top in my opinion and he should have a bit of perspective here. His father is clearly proud of his son but his letter is frankly embarrassing and ill judged. I think it unfair to call the gallery staff jobsworths If I was one of the artists I would feel aggrieved if they had not acted in this way. Mr Atkin I think needs to apologise for this shameless self promotion and accpet his actions were out of touch.

Jim Budd said...


Thank you for your comment.

I think you have misunderstood the situation. The tasting was a private event (invitation only) in a room hired from the Gallery. Had it been in the public gallery it would, of course, been an entirely different matter. But it wasn't.

The photos were linked to the tasting and it was the actions of the staff which created the story.

Matt said...

Crazy. I agree had it been a public event, a different story. However for a private tasting, a private viewing would be fine.
Having known of Tim for a long long time, having known him personally for a fairly long time and having watched his photography blossom in the last couple of years. I am saddened by this. Of course his photography is second to his words, but he is a very good photographer and someone I know I have to watch out for. He as a great eye. A sad day for all I feel.

However I know Tim will not let this get him too down for too long.
Cheers from Chile

Jim Budd said...

Matt. Thanks. Tim's photos will be@the Kensington Wine Rooms from 28th May. For two months I believe.

flavourflavor said...

Thanks for this, to be clear I understand the situation and my opinion still stands. The room in question (whilst not the main exhibition space holds a number of artworks and Tims actions were wrong irrespective of whether the event was private or public.

Would you hold the same view if this was a private event in the National Gallery for example? Moreover, I would argue that Tim has brought this the situation on himself by tweeting "top argentine wines and 20 of my photos on show today and the whitechapel". whilst you can forgive the slightly misleading tone of that. His subsequent reaction was more of a spoilt brat than a respected journalist. Yes his photography is perfectly fine but I cannot be the only one who reads his articles and who finds the self promotion of his photographic hobby as art as nauseating at times. The fact that the wine rooms in kensington have lept on the band wagon now and have offered to "show" his working is frankly a little ridiculous.

His latest bordeaux report advertises itself as containing "award winning" pictures. Please that is stretching the truth a little; and hardly a justification of the £10 cost. I am sure the photos are very good and enhance the report but lets be perfectly clear I'm interested in the words not what a Chateau vineyard etc looks like.

In my view there is a little too fawning over this in Tim's favour and not enough people telling him - "you know what chill out a little bit on this Tim these people may have a point".

If he had an ounce of knowledge on the public funding of the Whitechapel then his barbed comment on twitter might not have come across as so ill informed.

If he wishes to partake in an artistic community then he should learn to respect those very institutions to which he excitedly felt a part of at the start of yesterday.

All of which I feel is a shame because I do genuinely enjoy his writing but I cannot help my opinion of him has fallen a degree or two here.

Jim Budd said...


As it was a private event with a restricted invitation list, my view would be the same if the event had been held in the National Gallery, Tate Modern or the Prado etc. The Whitechapel Gallery staff were foolishly petty and small minded in removing the photos when they were propped up behind the wines. The photos were only there for the duration of the event.

Tim had got the mounted photos over to the Whitechapel Gallery and spent a couple of hours hanging them. I'm not at all surprised that he was upset and annoyed at the actions and inflexibility of the Gallery's event organiser.

Luc Charlier said...

“Timmy played for time, jiving us that we was voodoo
The kids was just crass. He was the nazz
With God given ass
He took it all too far, but boy could he take pictures
Making love with his ego, Timmy sucked up into his mind
Like a leper messiah
When the kids had killed the man I had to break up the band
Timmy takes pictures ...”

Jim, he may be a friend of yours, but is all this not rather “une tempête dans un verre d’eau” (much ado about nothing) and rather an ego problem. The noble Institute of MW’s has this tendency to inflate ego’s – on which ground ?
You’ve already presented better cases than this one !

Jim Budd said...

Luc. It might even be a storm in a teacup, which I think has now blown over and moved on.