[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 16 April, 2004, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Anger at student's body parts art
By Hannah Bayman
BBC News Online, Portsmouth

Mr Finlay Ruffian, by Karah Benford
Ms Benford's patchwork puppets feature false teeth and eyes
False teeth are not usually at the cutting edge of modern art.

But a student has sparked outrage with a show of puppets made with dentures and glass eyes from dead people.

Karah Benford, 20, is exhibiting the dolls, entitled Death Threads, at The Ultraviolet Contemporary Art Gallery in Southsea, Portsmouth.

A canon at Portsmouth Cathedral has branded the show "gratuitous", while a local councillor called it "sickening".

Ms Benford, who is studying a Fine Art degree at Portsmouth University, designed each of the patchwork puppets with its own character and name, including Mr Finlay Ruffian and Dolly Dollar.

Reverend Canon Nick Ash said: "These things have been part of someone's body. It seems to be a gratuitous use of that kind of thing."

Jezz Baker, a Portsmouth city councillor, told BBC News Online: "Is this really art?

What's next - used arms and legs?"
Jezz Baker, councillor

"The thought that the artist has used bits and pieces, be it teeth or eyes or any other parts someone has left behind, does not make me want to see it.

"Art can be controversial without being sickening.

"It makes me wonder what's next - used arms and legs?"

But gallery owner Jim Alabaster has defended his decision to show the work, saying art is meant to provoke debate.

He told BBC News Online: "When Karah came to me with the idea for the exhibition I hesitated, but listening to her reasoning behind the work prompted me to go ahead.

Puppet person, by Karah Benford
Gallery owner Jim Alabaster: "They have a grotesque life of their own"

"We both feel art is meant to be controversial.

"I opened the gallery to give people in Portsmouth an opportunity to express themselves that they otherwise might not have had.

"Karah said to me that accumulating these things from people who have passed away is no different from going to a charity shop and picking through the garments there and that made a lot of sense to me.

"The quality of the puppets swayed me, particularly when she introduced me to them and explained their intriguing characters.

"They seem to have a grotesque life of their own and there is part of Karah in there as well, which gives the work continuity.

"The puppets could be a bit scary for young children, but for adults who want to experience cutting-edge art they have begun a debate, which is what art is all about."

Death Threads is at The Ultraviolet Contemporary Art Gallery on Highland Road until 1630 BST on Saturday.



Rachel portrait 'appals' family
16 Mar 04 |  Hereford/Worcs
Should suicide bomber artwork be removed?
21 Jan 04 |  Have Your Say

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific