CANNIBAL ARTISTS
THEY USE OWN BLOOD TO MAKE BLACK PUDDING IN STAGE ‘SHOW’

DAILY MAIL FRIDAY FEBRUARY 4TH 2005


Two Scottish artists have provoked outrage over a gruesome show in which they cook human blood black puddings live on stage.
The Black Pudding Self-Portrait will see John Beagles and Graham Ramsay create the dish using two pints of their own blood as the key ingredient. The performance will be held next week at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh as part of the Body Parts festival.


Glaswegians Beagles and Ramsay, who have exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, will combine a pint of blood each with traditional ingredients such as barley, suet and onions. Ramsay said: ‘The gallery manager in New York didn’t realise what was going on until we started doing it. She threatened to stop us due to health and safety regulations. The other problem was that we had to smuggle the blood into the U.S. because you’re not allowed to import blood products and we didn’t have enough time before the performance to have the blood taken there.’


The pair store blood from home visits from a nurse. Ramsay, 36, said: ‘She comes to our house and takes a little every day.’ He claimed the human version tastes better that the original: ‘It’s like a gourmet version of a typical black pudding. We haven’t eaten it all, but we did have a little nibble and it tastes great. For the RSA we’ll make a batch of the black pudding and fry it up in the gallery. It will probably take half an hour to an hour, maximum, depending on how long people can stand the stench.’


‘At the moment the recipe is a blend of both of us – but in the future we’d like to do a single malt version.’
Ramsay said the performance stemmed from their interest in ‘grotesque self-portraiture, low quality meat products, consumption and cannibalism.’ But Lady Marion Fraser, founding Chairman of the Friends of the RSA, said she would not be attending the exhibition, adding: "When we founded the Friends of the RSA, we would not have considered this as being particularly artistic – it’s not what we had in mind hen we thought of contemporary art. It’s not the kind of thing that would attract me to the gallery. There are lots of other things going on there of greater importance than this.’


Bill Wallace, former convener of the Church of Scotland’s Board of Social Responsibility, said: ‘It’s not very creative or imaginative. Everyone’s got their own tastes but I think it’s pretty sad to show that sort of thing as art. It’s a sad reflection that the gallery had nothing better to show.’
A spokesman for the City of Edinburgh Council said that the artists would need a licence to perform, adding: ‘We would then want to discuss with them the details of what they’re planning to do and take it from there. There’s nothing more we can say at the moment.’


RSA exhibitions co-ordinator Colin Greenslade confirmed that Beagles and Ramsay had previously used their own blood in their work. But he added: ‘This is the first time this particular exhibition has come to Scotland. It’s a good step forward for the RSA to put on something like this. It helps us to get away from our stuffy image of an antique institution.’