Bare cheeks raise PC hackles

February 10, 1995

Adam and Eve have been banished from a Southampton University seminar room after falling foul of faculty objections to their "inappropriate" nudity.

The non-PC pair feature in one of three paintings by local artist Larry Wakefield which are all now to be removed from the social science conference room.

The move follows a petition organised by senior social statistics lecturer, Maire Ni Bhrolchain, because some students and staff objected to the nudes. Mr Wakefield said he was bemused by the decision - especially as the department had selected the works.

"The issue really is about censorship in the arts," said Mr Wakefield. "There are many aspects of feminism which I go along with but they have picked on the wrong artist. These paintings are celebrations of life and certainly cannot be seen as pornographic or titillating."

Asked if he felt a victim of political correctness, he added: "I am very suspicious of many aspects of political correctness. I think it is more to do with authoritarianism and control than it is to do with decency and humanity.

"There is no doubt a small feminist block instigated this and it has been dealt with rather clumsily by the university."

University spokeswoman Joyce Lewis said the canvasses, which feature male and female nudity, were displayed for 12 years in a larger foyer area before being moved to the smaller conference room after a recent redecoration.

"There's really no doubt that lots of women do feel uncomfortable when confronted with images like that and I imagine lots of men do too," said Mrs Lewis.

"It has been fully debated in the faculty and every single person has had the opportunity to put their opinion forward. What may be absolutely fine to be exhibited in an art gallery, where people choose to see art, is completely different to a teaching space where you have to go for seminars."

Howard Newby, vice chancellor, said: "I think it is important to keep our sense of proportion. Clearly there has never been any intention to cause anyone offence and since the paintings are hanging in a very public place, if offence has been caused it is something we need to take into consideration."

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