Are these paintings too extreme for children? Artist ‘shocked’ at ban

Art showing children in gas masks has been deemed “inappropriate” to be shown at a Norfolk nature park.

Fakenham artist Terri Broughton organised earlier this year to display her paintings at Pensthorpe for seven days in December.

But after six months planning for the event, Pensthorpe cancelled the exhibition when they saw the works Mrs Broughton wanted to display.

Mrs Broughton, 62, said: “The ban came as a total shock to me. I did warn Pensthorpe at the very beginning that my paintings were not of the usual birds and landscapes. They never asked to see a sample of my work. Had they done so, they could have made a decision to decline my exhibition from the start.

“It is the job of an artist to challenge and shed light on the human condition and it is not acceptable to pull the exhibition at this late stage.”

Mrs Broughton said her granddaughter, seven, and sister-in-law, 83, both modelled for her paintings.

A Pensthorpe spokeswoman said the decision was “not taken lightly” by the site’s management team.

She said: “On final submission of her selection of artworks we felt that the nature of some of her work may have been inappropriate for some of our young family visitors.

“First and foremost we are a visitor attraction and not an art gallery, where the general public would more easily accept seeing such hard-hitting and thought-provoking work – a lot of which contained images of children in a possibly disturbing context.”

Pensthorpe’s later offered to show the paintings mid-week, on the condition there was a ‘parental guidance warning’ sign outside saying the exhibition. The offer was declined.

Mrs Broughton said: “This was not part of the original agreement and was a non-starter because the hundreds of people I had invited, work during the week and were making plans to come at the weekend.”

She said she was now looking for a gallery willing to display her works instead.

Mrs Broughton, a former head teacher of King’s Lynn Academy, has a first-class honours degree in ceramics and has spent much of her life championing the arts in schools here in UK and in Kenya and Nepal.

She was awarded a Tate Modern prize for her masters degree project in which she pioneered the questioning and challenging of first year A-Level art students about their artistic values.

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