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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 November 2006, 14:33 GMT
Police halt artist's city lie-in
See what the public think of Mark McGowan's art performance.

Police have stopped an artist from lying down in a street dressed as a soldier over concerns about safety.

Mark McGowan planned to spend 10 hours a day curled up on Birmingham's busy New Street but West Midlands Police asked him not start a second day.

The force said they had not received any complaints from the public about Mr McGowan's Dead Soldier performance.

The artist, who got public money for the piece, which tackles conflict, said he will return to the site.

The week-long performance, funded with 4,000, is in conjunction with a retrospective of his work at University of Central England, in Birmingham.

The role of a soldier in war is to be used as a weapon and my role as the artist is being a witness to our time
Mark McGowan

The money has come from the university and the Arts Council.

The 38-year-old from Peckham, south London, said his work is meant to be provocative and his role as an artist is "to be a witness to our time".

He said the work raises questions about the horrific nature of conflict and is neither anti-war or pro-military.

"I spoke to police yesterday but when I arrived this morning they said 'No, not today' because of safety," he told BBC News.

A 'disgrace'

"The role of a soldier in war is to be used as a weapon and my role as the artist is being a witness to our time.

"What am I supposed to paint, pictures about nice things? Well, things right now are not very nice."

He has been criticised in a national newspaper for being a "disgrace" in light of the continuing loss of British lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr McGowan has previously made a name for himself by rolling a monkey nut across London with his nose to highlight student debt.


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