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Tuesday, 5 February, 2002, 16:40 GMT
Health warning over naked statues
Unfinished sculptures
The unfinished statues are on display on a wesbite
Health officials want an artist to cover up his nude statues because they might cause distress to patients.

Rodger Burnett has spent months fashioning the figures of two naked women to be put on display at Calderdale Royal Hospital, Halifax.

But now the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust, which commissioned the works, wants him to clothe the bronze statues in slips.

Last year officials from the Calderdale and Kirklees Health Authority refused thousands of pounds raised by the creation of a saucy calendar, in case cancer patients found it "offensive".

The sculptor of the bronze figures, Rodger Burnett, 58, told BBC News Online: "The commissioners were changed mid-stream and I was told the trust were having second thoughts.

We have become so far removed from the classical figure

Rodger Burnett, Sculptor

"I had a letter last week saying the figures were unsuitable and they asked me to put a slip on the statues.

"But the people of this locality deserve more credit than these trustees are prepared to give them.

"I chose to use the representational nude figure because it has always been a means to express life, hope, beauty and dignity, which are essential elements in the hospital context.

"Had it been abstract there would have been no problem, but we have become so far removed from the classical figure that it has become contentious."

Mr Burnett, 58, said a total of three bronze sculptures were commissioned for the new hospital at Salterhebble, Halifax.

One of the pieces, a pair of girls dancing, has already been unveiled.

'Vulnerable patients'

But the more controversial statues show two women, one seated, the other standing.

Brenda Wright, communications officer at the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust, told BBC News Online: "Concern was raised about the sensitivities of placing undressed, perfectly formed, whole figures in positions where they may cause distress to patients undergoing particular treatments such as breast cancer investigations or surgery.

"The trust is therefore working with the sculptor to explore suitable locations for the additional two pieces."

Mr Burnett said his standing woman represents the "human spirit", while the seated one shows how people have a chance "to reflect on life" while in hospital.

He plans to have the standing figure "emerging from a whirlpool of leaves", and the sitting figure put "on a rock above a fathomless pool of water."

In October last year members of Kirkburton Liberal Club were staggered when 3,000 they offered to an oncology unit in Huddersfield was turned down.

They raised the money by creating and selling their own saucy calendar, after three of their members were diagnosed with cancer.

At that time, the Kirklees and Calderdale Health Authority said they were grateful for the offer, but the calendar could cause offence to vulnerable patients.

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