Local media are reporting that City of London Corporation councillor Tom Hoffman is the ‘brains’ behind two new artwasher-in-residence schemes being promoted by the Corp. Hoffman is notorious for his hard-line defence of the vested interests of the City against democratic movements and reform. As The Guardian noted about Hoffman and the Occupy London camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral before its eviction:
While the pause button has been pressed on moves by the powerful City of London Corporation to evict protesters from outside St Paul’s, the smoke is clearing on what many expected would be the real conflict after the “phoney war” between activists and the cathedral… the dispute is rapidly crystallising into a stand-off between opponents of Britain’s corporate elite on one side and, on the other, the Corporation, which is committed to backing the interests of “the City”.
Symbolically, the Corporation’s planning and transportation committee, which took the decision to go ahead with court action to clear 200 or more tents, has a high number of past and present employees of some of the interests that the camp was set up to challenge….
The committee includes Tom Hoffman, a veteran international and investment banker; Oliver Lodge, a longstanding City professional with experience in investment management and regulation of the investment industry; James Pollard of asset manager Invesco Perpetual; and Paul Judge, a former director general of the Conservative party, who now chairs Schroder Income Growth Fund.
Paul’s holy smokescreen lifts to reveal true battlefield. The Occupy protesters’ real foe is at last emerging from the shadows of the cathedral: the City of London Corporation by Ben Quinn, The Guardian, 2 November 2011.
This week Hoffman and his reactionary agenda was bubbling under in the media once again, with the following making the local press:
The City is looking for artists in residence to celebrate the achievements of women in the Square Mile and the arts and crafts of people who set sail for America on the Mayflower 400 years ago.
The idea is the brainchild of the new Deputy, Tom Hoffman, who was keen to have an artist in residence at the City of London headquarters at the historic Guildhall during his year in office.
There will be two artists in residence during his term as Chief Commoner, an office which started in 1444.
The first will be asked to create a two-dimensional piece of work celebrating women, while the second will make a sculpture as part of the Mayflower 400 celebrations next year, which commemorate the voyage of the Pilgrim Fathers as they fled England for a new life in America.
The hunt for the first artist will get underway in June and the artist will start work in August…. The successful artist will be paid £10,000 for three months work and materials, and it is hoped the artwork will go on display at the City Art Gallery in Guildhall Yard.
They will also be mentored by gallery boss and principal curator Elizabeth Scott. The move was announced at the culture, heritage and libraries committee on 13 May.
Nick Bodger, the City’s cultural and visitor development director, told councillors that the second artist will be asked to create a three-dimensional artwork.
“We will be looking hopefully at doing an on-street exhibition celebrating the arts of the guilds which travelled on the Mayflower,” he said.
The artist will be mentored by the City’s head of cultural programming Laurie Miller-Zutshi.
New search begins for artists in residence by Julia Gregory, City Matters, 16 May 2019.
Both art-washer-in-residence posts are highly problematic. It is hypocritical of the City of London to ‘celebrate’ the achievements of women while doing nothing to dismantle the glass ceiling and institutionalised patriarchy that pretty much reserves the highest posts at the council for men. The top job is that of Lord Mayor and to date there have been 691 holders of this office but only two of them have been women! In the UK freemasonry is largely insignificant outside the armed forces and the criminal justice system, but it looms large on the City of London council. Since the Guildhall Lodge was founded in 1905, more than two thirds of Lord Mayors of London have belonged to this small men only masonic organisation. The City of London council allows the Guildhall Lodge to meet for free on its premises but given this branch of freemasonry’s grip on top jobs within this local authority and the fact it does not admit women, its use of such facilities should be suspended while it maintains gender exclusions.
On his register of interests Hoffman includes: “Past Master, Lodge of Antiquity, No. 2 in the United Grand Lodge of England.” If this freemason was serious about ending discrimination against women in the City of London he’d be an opponent of men only lodges whose influence on the Corporation is utterly disproportionate to the minute numbers involved with them across the whole of English society. Hoffman’s supposed ‘celebration’ of women in the City looks like a fig-leaf attempt to protect patriarchy and the glass ceiling at the council by diverting attention away from – and thus preserving the power of – the influential ‘no women we’re into male mysteries’ club for whom he has acted as an officer.
Just as problematic is Hoffman’s desire to celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of the Mayflower and the Pilgrim Fathers. Here we will focus only on local colonial issues, although obviously the global aspects of this colonialism should be borne in mind too. Those onboard the Mayflower were English Protestants known at the time as Puritans because they sought to ‘purify’ their religious practices of Roman Catholic influences and maintained that the Church of England had not been fully reformed. The City has longstanding connections to both Protestantism in its Puritan forms and the colonial atrocities associated with this. Much of modern racism was invented and elaborated by hack writers from the Grub Street area on the edge of the City (now part of Cripplegate ward), and it was they who first depicted Irish Catholics as apes, a racist slur subsequently transferred to Africans.
Cromwell – the family name of a particularly infamous Puritan tyrant and colonialist – is still evident in the names of buildings and streets in the City of London municipal area. Hoffman lists the following Anglican organisation on his register of interests: “Trustee, Corporation of the Sons and Friends of the Clergy” (the name was changed to the Clergy Support Trust in March this year). Likewise, Hoffman’s involvement with the Honourable Irish Society, originally a consortium of City of London livery companies with a charter to colonise Ulster and now a vehicle for City of London charity-washing, is deeply problematic. The Honourable Irish Society ought to hand over both the Walls of Derry and its fisheries on the River Bann to the people there.
Celebrating the Mayflower will do nothing for community cohesion given that there are many people who come from Irish families living in the City of London ward of Cripplegate and the neighbouring Islington ward of Bunhill. Given this, Hoffman could actually do something for community relations by campaigning to rid the City of all references to Cromwell, since this despot remains notorious for his massacres in Eire hundreds of years after they took place. We have previously suggested that Cromwell Tower on the Barbican Estate might have its name changed to Devlin Tower to honour the Irish civil rights activist Bernadette Devlin. Likewise, rather than employing artwashers-in-residence, the City would do much more to improve the world if it abolished itself so that it might be replaced with democratic institutions.
Tom Hoffman – “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” Matthew 7:16.
New search begins for artists in residence by Julia Gregory: https://www.citymatters.london/new-search-begins-artists-residence/
Paul’s holy smokescreen lifts to reveal true battlefield. The Occupy protesters’ real foe is at last emerging from the shadows of the cathedral: the City of London Corporation by Ben Quinn: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/nov/02/st-pauls-anti-corporate-elite-the-city
Tom Hoffman declaration of interests at Internet Archive: https://web.archive.org/web/20190516211453/http://democracy.cityoflondon.gov.uk/mgDeclarationSubmission.aspx?UID=251&HID=3011&FID=0&HPID=508662655