An overtly polemic exhibition of “cartoons” – including depictions of Prime Minister Theresa May, sitting on a toilet and Boris Johnson farting – has drawn complaints from outraged local residents.
The exhibition is being held in Penarth Pier Pavilion – which is owned by the Labour-run Vale of Glamorgan Council which leases the premises to Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd – a not for profit ‘charity’ on whose board both the Vale Council and Penarth Town Council are represented.
The pavilion management has taken the unusual step of posting warning notices to the public around the main auditorium saying “Pleased be advised : This exhibition contains some content that people may find offensive”
The Pavilion publicity material says the exhibition is of hitherto unseen work by “renowned artist” Iwan Bala – who is described as an “established artist, writer and lecturer”.
Mr Bala, who presented a talk at a public function in the Pavilion last night, is said to have been “responding to the electorate’s vote on the UK’s EU membership” and has created “politicized ‘maps'” and “satirical caricatures of the principle players in the lead up to and result of Brexit”.
The Pavilion has justified the exhibition by saying “An Artist“ [with a capital “a”] “has a duty to comment, protest and become an agent provocateur through the medium of visual communication” .
…..But that’s not the way everybody sees it .
Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) says he has received a complaint from “upstanding citizens” of Penarth who have described the exhibition as “abominable, with appalling language, quite beyond, disgusting, Nationalist stuff, not at all suitable for children to see, and has political innuendos.”
The complainants asked “How do local artists get their work displayed? If the exhibition cannot be “decent” why stage it ? And why, when vast sums of public money (e.g. Vale Council and Heritage Lottery Fund) have been poured into the Pier Pavilion, is such an exhibition ever permitted ?”
Cllr Ernest says “Clearly this is a matter for the Pavilion Trustees to answer to, but I was asked about the input (if any) from the Town Council. My response was that the Council has 1 representative on the Board, and the Vale Council has 2 nominees. However the rest of us have no input into the running of the pavilion. Possibly the Charities Commission does though ?”
The councillors who are current trustees of the Pier Pavilion are the Mayor of Penarth Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) and Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines).
Some of the works on display at the exhibition are priced at £400.