The Frieze Art Fair in Regent's Park opens today and there is much hoo-ha elsewhere about money and art, the market, the business and the meaning of it all especially during the current financial crisis (can we still call it that or has it settled to 'being a bit awkward about money' yet?). We are drawn today to a different aspect of the art world, away from the auctions and big money bank transfers to the area of free, public art and... nudity. Bare naked bodies. In the buff. As nature intended. In Harrow.
Artists Cheryl Gould and Jonathan Hutchins were asked to remove their paintings from the annual Harrow Art Centre autumn show, due to the genitalia included in their work. Hutchins submitted alternative, less frank artworks but Gould removed hers entirely. Her partner also withdrew his work from the exhibition in protest, leading to what we imagine to be a fairly stormy night just before the exhibition opened on Monday 13 October.
Councillor Chris Mote with whom the final decision rested, defended the actions of Harrow Arts Centre staff, saying the nudes were too risky to have in a public space used by children and religious groups as well as exhibition attendees. But what about offending those who find a total lack of public art offensive? What about providing for those who want to support their local artists and enjoy their work in a local public space? What about those who can remain composed and objective when confronted with a painting of a naked body, who are able to admire artistic effort without feeling compromised? What about that minority group?
A separate art gallery has been proposed for Harrow to avoid similar clashes in the use of a public space like Harrow Arts Centre - let's hope the area gets that soon or else it's going to be endless still life paintings of fruit and vegetables from now on.
View the artworks here.
Image of dressed Gormley nude by Zefrog from the Londonist Flickr pool.