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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 October 2007, 16:39 GMT 17:39 UK
'Comic genitals' Buddha switched
Buddha statue
The Buddha has been turned around to not cause offence.
The owner of an art gallery has been asked to turn around a sculpture of Buddha with comical genitalia after complaints from people passing by.

The bronze statue is on display in the window of the St Giles Street Gallery, Norwich, and has testicles and a penis in the shape of eggs and a banana.

Gallery owner David Koppel has agreed to turn Colin Self's 125,000 sculpture, so the front is not on view.

Buddhists said the statue was in poor taste, but welcomed the compromise.

Norfolk Police's hate crime unit has looked into the complaints, and suggested the sculpture was turned so its back was on view from the outside of the gallery's front window.

Acting gallery manager Adrian Leggett said: "We've had several complaints through people who have come into the gallery and made their views apparent, but also we gather that there's been several complaints to the local police force which we've had visits from.

We tend to go beyond anger and hatred, so there would be no threat of anger and violence, as might happen with some other religions or believers
Tom Llewellyn, Norwich Buddhist

"The police told us to either remove the sculpture or turn it around in the window so it's not on public view, which we've done."

Tom Llewellyn, a member of Norwich's Buddhist community, said he was pleased there had been a compromise.

"It's an inappropriate use of the central symbol in Buddhism," he said.

"In Buddhism, no symbol is absolute and all symbols are a means to an end, not an end themselves.

"We tend to go beyond anger and hatred, so there would be no threat of anger and violence, as might happen with some other religions or believers."

A police spokeswoman said: "My officers attended the gallery and together with the manager came up with a pragmatic and sensible compromise, that the statue has been turned around so it no longer faces the public street.

"This solution both upholds the principles of freedom of artistic expression but also prevents any offence being caused."


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