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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 May, 2003, 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK
Saddam's favourite artist
Rowena Morrill's work found at Saddam's safe house in Baghdad
Rowena Morrill's work is primarily based on fantasy images
American artist Rowena Morrill - known for fantasy-styled, brightly coloured works - has told the BBC of her shock at the discovery of her paintings in Saddam Hussein's private collection.

Morrill's sister first spotted the works during television coverage of the war on Iraq.

She saw the pictures hanging on the wall of one of Saddam Hussein's private palaces, and immediately called Morrill.

"I was utterly stunned," Morrill told BBC World Service's Everywoman programme.

She added that she had had "absolutely no idea" the Iraqi leader had purchased the two paintings.


Morrill added that she was intrigued at his interest in her work.

"I can't say that I take anything coming from a quarter like that as a compliment," she said.

"However I certainly think that - if in fact he was looking at my works and thinking anything - I'm very curious."

"I've always known that once I sell a piece it could end up anywhere.

"Of course I never dreamt that it would end up in a place like that."

Voluptuous priestess

Morrill's artwork is primarily based on fantasy images - and the paintings found in Saddam Hussein's palace were typical examples.

The first was of a priestess "who is very voluptuous, draped over an altar in front of a stone demon," she said.

"She's hurling a magic snake monster forward at the hero of the story, who's invading the inner sanctum of the temple."

The other featured a green dragon, "flying down to get a girl who's chained to a rock".

"A lot of it is based on book covers, but I was living in Japan as a child, and probably that had some influence."

"I loved those wonderful Japanese ghost stories."

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