Raunchy teenage images are out of place at Lauderdale House
I am the complainant referred to in last week s article on the display of Martin Wright s work in Lauderdale House (Naked pictures furore at Lauderdale, H&H April 24). I made clear in my email that, as an amateur artist myself, I had no wish for anyone s
I am the complainant referred to in last week's article on the display of Martin Wright's work in Lauderdale House (Naked pictures furore at Lauderdale, H&H April 24).
I made clear in my email that, as an amateur artist myself, I had no wish for anyone's work to be censored. My main concern was whether the lower gallery, where family and toddler events are hosted, where one has no warning or choice as to whether to view the work, is an appropriate venue for work that depicts (by Mr Lipton's own admission) a 16-year-old girl in naked poses designed "to inspire the sensual imagination".
Many of the poses are classic "soft porn/come hither" positions and certain of the models have the appearance of being younger than 16 because of their slimness. Whether or not they are in fact older than 16 is not the point: they will look younger to many, and the labels by the works didn't make clear how old they are.
The overall effect of "borderline legality" is very unsettling. I have painted many female nudes myself which I happily display at home, but that's because they're not intended to be "sexy", and they're not of young girls. (And I can tell you from experience these are not classic life drawing poses.)
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Mr Lipton and the staff of Lauderdale House appear to be rather in denial about whether the work is or is not pornographic. My dictionary's definition of pornography is "[pictures] designed to stimulate sexual excitement".
Quite frankly, what is the intended meaning of the somewhat coy publicity literature quote "a tasteful presentation to inspire the sensual imagination" if it is not this? What else is one supposed to be imagining in a sensual way when one looks at the pictures, but something of a sexual nature? Whether or not Lauderdale or Mr Lipton find the word pornography distasteful, that is clearly what the work is intended to be.
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Personally I think there is nothing wrong with the display of pornographic art in the right context - but that context is a place where people can choose whether or not to view it (or have their children view it), such as a gallery or room where one seeks the work out and knows in advance what one is to see. It is certainly not the ground floor of Lauderdale House, where visitors usually are there for other reasons than to view the art that happens to be on the wall that week.
Mr Lipton made a telling comment: "They are the kind of things you would put up in your bedroom". Exactly. It's arguably suitable for display in a private area of the house where one might well want one's "sensual imagination" stimulated, but even then I think many people would consider that using a picture of a 16-year-old for that purpose is a bit dodgy.
I note that the Ham&High printed one of the tamer pictures ... perhaps you could print one of the raunchier ones of the younger-looking of the girls, and then people can comment properly on the suitability of the work for the space?
Let's face it, if it's not suitable to print in the Ham&High it's hardly suitable for display in the lower gallery.