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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 05:56 GMT 06:56 UK
Row over 'Virgin' statue
The controversial sculpture has long blonde hair
Worshippers at a historic cathedral in Cambridgeshire have criticised a new sculpture of the Virgin Mary.

They say it looks like television gardener Charlie Dimmock.

The life-sized sculpture was unveiled at Ely Cathedral by Prince Charles but it has led to a stream of correspondence from cathedral visitors.

One worshipper referred to it as "the Virgin of the wet T-shirt" while others said they could not bear to look at it.

Complaint letters

The sculpture, which is in the cathedral's Lady Chapel, is the work of Prince Charles' friend David Wynne who has done several works for the prince's Highgrove home.

The Dean of the cathedral, the Very Reverend Michael Higgins, said he has been inundated with letters of complaint.

But he defended the sculpture, which features the Virgin Mary with long blonde hair.

He said: "It is a work of art and art is supposed to be something people can talk about and pass comment on.

'Cult idol'

"I would find it a lot more worrying if there had been no reaction."

One woman wrote to say the sculpture looked like a "cult idol of some Northern European pagan Goddess".

Another wrote: "The statue seems to be a belly or disco dancer making suggestive movements and to set it up as the Virgin Mary is nothing short of an outrage."

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