Last cen­tury’s fake news is today’s real art

The cul­prits Big­ger the bet­ter

i Newspaper - - NEWS - By Adam Sherwin ARTS AND MEDIA COR­RE­SPON­DENT

A cen­tury be­fore “fake news”, Pilt­down Man de­ceived sci­ence’s finest minds. Now the great an­thro­po­log­i­cal hoax has been turned into a work of art for an ex­hi­bi­tion cel­e­brat­ing fraud­sters who fooled the world.

Si­mon Pat­ter­son, the Turner Prize-nom­i­nated artist, has cre­ated an in­stal­la­tion fea­tur­ing the hu­man skull which, com­bined with the jaw of an ape, was pre­sented by am­a­teur ar­chae­ol­o­gist Charles Daw­son as the “miss­ing link” be­tween ape and man in 1912.

Pat­ter­son has also pro­duced a work us­ing arte­facts re­lat­ing to Archibald Be­laney, the English im­poster and con­ser­va­tion­ist, who passed him­self off as Grey Owl, a First Na­tions abo­rig­i­nal Cana­dian.

Daw­son and Be­laney were both from Hast­ings, and the no­to­ri­ous fig­ures from the East Sus­sex town’s his­tory are cel­e­brated in the ex­hi­bi­tion that opens today at the De La Warr Pav­il­ion in nearby Bex­hill-on-Sea.

Pat­ter­son was in­vited to raid Bex­hill and Hast­ings Mu­se­ums to gather “con­tentious ob­jects orig­i­nat­ing from lo­cal fraud­sters, char­la­tans and fan­ta­sists” for the ex­hi­bi­tion, Sa­fari.

It took sci­en­tists 40 years, us­ing new dat­ing tech­nol­ogy, to con­firm that Daw­son’s “an­cient” skull, dis­cov­ered at Pilt­down vil­lage, was a hoax. The skull and jaw frag­ments ac­tu­ally came from two dif­fer­ent species, a hu­man and prob­a­bly an orang­utan, skil­fully com­bined, with the teeth filed down to make them look hu­man.

The Grey Owl case fea­tures a Na­tive Amer­i­can head­dress and cos­tume, worn not by Grey Owl him­self but by Pierce Bros­nan in the 1999 film telling the story of the man so fas­ci­nated by Na­tive Amer­i­can cul­ture that he rein­vented him­self in the 1930s as an “In­dian” trap­per who spoke pas­sion­ately about con­ser­va­tion.


Air Transat – 55% Ice­landair – 56% Nor­we­gian – 60% Malaysia – 60% Air Canada – 64%


KLM – 88% Qatar Air­ways – 86% Ibe­ria – 84% Aer Lin­gus – 82% Eti­had – 82% Per­cent­age of UK flight ar­rivals within 15 min­utes of sched­uled time ac­com­mo­da­tion, de­pend­ing on cir­cum­stances.

The study as­sessed 850,000 flights land­ing at 25 Bri­tish air­ports. The fig­ures were based on in­bound flights as planes of­ten take off late but catch up be­fore land­ing. Which? has a “flight rights” tool on its web­site to help pas­sen­gers claim money back.

Sixty-two hand­writ­ten vol­umes of a se­cret diary kept by Adolf Hitler were snapped up by The Sun­day Times and pub­lished in 1983 af­ter be­ing authen­ti­cated. They were swiftly ex­posed as a forgery.

A 10ft stone fig­ure, said to have been found buried in a farm well in Cardiff, New York, in 1869, was touted as a pet­ri­fied giant, from bib­li­cal times. Huge crowds flocked to see this fake cre­ated by a to­bacco dealer.

The art world paid ho­mage to Nat Tate, a cru­elly over­looked tal­ent who died in 1960. David Bowie pub­lished a book of Tate’s works, but the whole scam had been cooked up by writer Wil­liam Boyd.

The ‘Pilt­down Man’ skull which fooled sci­en­tists for 40 years

Hitler Di­aries

Cardiff Giant

Nat Tate

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