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 Wednesday, 8 January, 2003, 13:27 GMT
Artist sorry for Cilla insult
Gillian Wearing (centre) being congratulated on winning the Turner Prize in 1997
Gillian Wearing (centre) won the Turner Prize in 1997
Turner Prize-winning artist Gillian Wearing has apologised for using a strong swearword in a newspaper illustration that sparked hundreds of complaints.

Wearing used the F-word and the name of TV host Cilla Black in her cover design for the Guardian's G2 supplement on Tuesday.

It was meant to be humorous

Gillian Wearing
Artist
The artist, who won the Turner Prize in 1997 for a video installation, later told The Guardian she was sorry for causing offence.

Cilla Black responded by describing the design as a "cheap publicity stunt".

The newspaper received 200 complaints on Tuesday, but has defended its decision to publish the design.

Wearing was invited to illustrate the G2's main story of the day - about Black's resignation from TV show Blind Date and the rise of "mean TV" - as part of a week-long project in which David Hockney and Antony Gormley are also coming up with cover designs.

"I thought people would laugh at it and not even look at it for long," Wearing said.

Cilla Black on Blind Date
We don't read the Guardian and it was a cheap publicity stunt

Robert Willis
Cilla Black's son
"It just shows you cannot predict what people will think. I am sorry if I have offended people."

Wearing said she was a fan of Cilla Black and Blind Date, and that it was the quickest piece of work she had produced in her life.

"It was to do with TV becoming nasty which, was what the article was about," she said.

"It was meant to be humorous. The cover is something you spend very little time on normally and I wanted it to be something quite simple."

Cilla Black's son Robert Willis, who is also her agent, told BBC News Online: "We don't read the Guardian and it was a cheap publicity stunt."

Guardian features editor Ian Katz said "on balance" he was right to authorise the publication of the illustration, but should have done more to explain the reasons for doing so.

"It was obviously shocking, but it also seemed to synthesise, in three short words, the point we were trying to make," he wrote on Wednesday.

Irate callers

It was not a comment by Wearing about Cilla Black but "the voice of Mean TV passing judgement on a cuddly matriarch from another age of television".

"Anyone who doubted that the F-word retained at least some worn incisors needed only to answer one of the calls that flooded into the Guardian switchboard yesterday morning," he wrote.

"Or open one of the countless e-mails to the editor. Or sit in the paper's editorial conference."

A statement from the newspaper said readers were not used to seeing original art in a newspaper, and it may not have been so shocking if hung in a gallery.

"Each artist is given free rein to create a cover - and, as we have come to expect with contemporary artists, some of these are bound to provoke strong feelings, both for and against," the statement said.


Cilla Black is to quit as presenter of Blind Date after nearly two decades. BBC News Online looks at her career and what the future could hold Cilla's career
Cilla Black's 40 years in the spotlight
See also:

04 Jan 03 | Entertainment
03 Dec 97 | Turner Prize
02 Oct 02 | Entertainment
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