Murder in the bath?

July 10, 1998

THIS is the photograph that led to two Edinburgh college students being summoned for interview by Lothian and Borders police, writes Olga Wojtas.

The project by Linda Dahl for her course in design and typography for print at Edinburgh's Telford College has helped win her a place at Edinburgh College of Art and has appeared in the end-of-year college exhibition.

It also proved that art has a different impact in different contexts. Ms Dahl photographed fellow student Helene Aubirt in a bath, her throat apparently cut, to create a crime case-history sequence. Finding the college darkroom unavailable, she took her film to Boots to be developed. Upon seeing the image, the store alerted the police.

A Boots spokeswoman said: "We have a policy that if a film contains pictures of activity that staff suspect could be illegal, the police are called and offered the opportunity to see the film." Ms Dahl had to go to the police station, with Ms Aubirt to prove that she was still alive.

Course tutor Helena Good said: "The basic brief was the human form, and we encourage students to be as creative and innovative as they possibly can. Linda's idea was to look at how your mind is led into an image to see what is happening. It did cause a reaction, which is what art tries to do."

John Watson, head of creative arts, said potentially ambivalent or disturbing images were an intrinsic part of creative art.

"The students did not deliberately go out to create the situation. But it raises an interesting question about how people see images in different contexts. If you're looking at photography in a gallery, you obviously make certain connections in your mind. But Boots was not in a position to do this."

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