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Wednesday, 22 August, 2001, 20:43 GMT 21:43 UK
Diana 'stars' in Abused exhibition
Sculpture of Princess Diana
Queen of Hearts: Sculpture to feature in show
An art exhibition called Abused - featuring a sculpture and paintings of the late Diana, Princess of Wales - is set to open in London.

The work is by Japanese-born artist Kumiko Shimizu and chronicles the life of the Princess from her engagement to the Prince of Wales to her death in 1997.

Diana, Princess of Wales
The Princess campaigned against landmines before her death
Ms Shimizu praised her subject for having the courage to break with her public image as the fairytale princess.

"Princess Diana was abused by the establishment," she said adding that people loved the Princess because she was always able to smile, despite her personal problems.

"Abuse can be very subtle and often people don't notice."

The sculpture, which is 1.9 metres tall, will be joined in the exhibition by one of London's Mayor Ken Livingstone.

Shimizu sees parallels between the two public figures.

"The reason why people love Princess Diana and Ken Livingstone is because they are strong enough to cope with abusive behaviour," she said.

I do not want to embarrass the Royal Family

Kumiko Shimizu

This is only the latest in a line of art work based on or dedicated to Diana, Princess of Wales.

Much of it has met with public outcry.

Earlier this year an exhibition featuring a line drawing of Princess Diana by a convicted murderer was banned in New York.

In 1999 a statue portraying her as the Virgin Mary went on display in Liverpool and was called "deeply offensive".

And a controversial Russian sculptor, famed for a 660-tonne statue of Christopher Columbus, created a two metre statue of the Princess earlier this year.

Asked whether she thought her subject matter would cause controversy, Shimizu replied: "I am a little worried.

"I do not want to embarrass the Royal Family."

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