One of the cartoons on display at the Pier Pavilion exhibition which is on until November 30th

One of the cartoons on display at the Pier Pavilion exhibition which is on until November 30th

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 unprecedented public notice displayed in Penarth Pier Pavilion's controversial exhibition

The unprecedented public notice displayed in Penarth Pier Pavilion’s controversial exhibition

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 artist and writer Iwan Bala

The artist and writer Iwan Bala charges £400 apiece for some of his work.

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 beenresponding to the electorate’s vote on the UK’s EU membershipand 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

Cllr Anthony Ernest, Conservative Plymouth Ward

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.


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  1. Paul says:

    I had to google him, thats how renowned he is.
    What I can’t understand is how artists like this would make a living if it wasn’t for funding from some organisation or other because, let’ be honest, that cartoon is rubbish. I wondered if he drew for Viz, but actually their cartoons are better.

  2. Ignatius J Reilly says:

    I saw this exhibition yesterday. It’s embarrassingly mediocre, unfunny and talentless. Or maybe that’s what the artist intended. Either way, don’t bother.

  3. John says:

    “Quite beyond” – ha – and has “political innuendos”. Come on now, Pier Pavilion, we’re British and you’re a seaside establishment. Let’s keep the innuendos purely sexual. What is happening to this country? Political innuendos indeed.

  4. 249ers says:

    I too Googled Iwan Bala and his biography shows he has won many prizes for his art including the Gold Medal in Fine Art at the National Eisteddfod in 1997 and his work is held in many public and private collections including The National Museum Wales.
    This doesn’t necessarily mean his work is suitable to display in an open exhibition on Penarth Pier . Maybe the trustees should have asked to see what was actually going to be exhibited before commissioning this artist.
    We should all visit (or Google) Southwold Pier and see the artist Tim Hunkin’s s Under the Pier Show consisting of amazing handbuilt machinery plus his magnificent water Clock, oh so suitable for a seaside pier.

  5. martin houghton says:

    What joy! It’s not often we get a scandal here in Penarth!! But I sincerely hope Penarth Pier Pavilion ignore the rants of our “upstanding citizens” and other such tediums. After all, what could be more pleasing than Teresa May taking a crap sat beside Johnson’s trumping? A true picture of a cabinet in tune with each other’s empathies.

  6. Elizabeth Windsor says:

    One was conversing with Boris on skype last week and he rather ground one’s gears with regards to all this president trump malarkey. I was in half a mind to have his head chopped off but one watched Homes Under The Hammer and calmed oneself down, and instead decided to have some rude paintings commissioned of him instead. My loyal subject please enjoy them while they are still there. Any silly complaints about them and one will have some rude paintings commissioned of you also.

  7. Godwinson says:

    I’m an upstanding citizen and to me it is abhorrent to see so many uncovered shoulders and ankles and faces in public so I am going to upstand my right to upstand and upstand against these abhorrences so I shall send a letter to my councillor to upstand it and hopefully it will get banned and you’ll all have to cover up because it is abhorrent

    • Paul says:

      Nothing abhorrent abut it in particular, it’s just rubbish. Seems you can get away with any old tat if it can be labelled as “art”, but god luck to him if there are idiots willing to pay £400.

      • Richard says:

        Agree with you, Paul. It’s just juvenile nonsense dressed up as ‘political’ comment. That kind of thing always wins ‘prizes’ at the eisteddfod (albeit in 1997) because it’s perceived as an ‘intellectual’ and ‘mischievous’ challenge to the ‘English Imperialists’. The reality is that it’s a huge embarrassment.

  8. martin houghton says:

    Use/definition of ‘upstanding’ needs clarification here.
    I’m an ‘upstanding’ citizen too and to me it is such a delight to see so many uncovered shoulders and ankles and faces in public so I am going to upstand my right to upstand for these delights so I shall send a letter to my councillor to upstand it and hopefully we will get more of it and you’ll all just have to put up and shut up because it is such a delight.
    Other definition : erect. But better not go there, methinks.

  9. Fiona Whitfield says:

    Lighten up Penarth

  10. Martin Coffee says:

    There was warning outside the exhibition so anyone who was shocked by this wanted to be shocked.

  11. Lindsay says:

    “Overtly polemic” and “political innuendo” eh? Far too subtle for this place.

  12. Mgg says:

    Can you walk through and avoid the exhibition ? Do you have to specifically go to the exhibition ? If so just dont go that way . Anyway should have been at Turner that’s for pictures !,,

  13. Louise C says:

    Can’t believe we’re having this argument in 2016. It’s an Art Exhibition! Who cares if people don’t like it? Art should provoke debate, but not ‘I don’t like it, so ban it’ . Childish.

  14. AK says:

    I hope to go soon to see if I get offended.

    Seriously, if you are offended you can always just leave, instead of complaining to all and sundry.

    These are probably the same people who would get offended by a saucy seaside postcard.

  15. snoggerdog says:

    prime ministers dont go to the toilet,have sex ,fart,swear,tell lies, well they just dont, do they?

  16. jmc says:

    oh please – if ever cllr earnest wanted to encapsulate why he and his like should just go away quietly and read the papers …
    1) there was a disclaimer
    2) not all art exists to please tbe mediocre guardians of the right
    3) people who regard themselves as a touchstone for ‘upright’ citizens should probably either undergo a reality check quickly, or at least think before uttering such ridicule deserving pomposity
    4) cllrs who frantically try to get attention months before elections are probably kist trying to get re-selected – better to fuss about a silly art exhibition than to stand on a record, maybe?
    5) Iwan Bala is well known (if not in Daily Mail / Fox tv circles, perhaps), am not sure you could say the same for some of our cllrs!
    Lastly, I hadn’t heard of this wxhibition but will go to see it for myself. It looks purile, but I prefer not to get my views through other people.

    And no, am not a left winger, not even remotely, but this non-spat really does demonstrate the need for change!

  17. Mark Foster says:

    The crocodiles in the swamp are getting desperate. Pretty soon we’ll have a Russian false flag.

  18. Peter Church says:

    Iwan Bala earns a living from having his exhibitions subsidised by you me and other council tax payers up and down the land.
    I wonder would the left wing funding be so upcoming if he drew Islamic cartoons?

  19. Andrew Worsley says:

    I’ve just seen some the naïve /infantile art by this so called artist on the internet, if that’s art I’m the Loch Ness Monster its crap!. If it can be called naïve art but to me its called con- art, meaning done by a con artist . A 10 year old could do this stuff , id be ashamed to display it but of course the usual Philistines , like the Emperors New Clothes will say yes to anything , thinking they are ‘in the know’. I notice he seems to have pinched ideas from others too with shades of Jason Pollock for one. No wonder he’s laughing up his sleeve.

    • Lindsay says:

      After all the huffing and puffing I’m sure this will be the Pavilion’s best attended event.

  20. I’m not so keen on his “Art” myself, but would defend the right of Penarth Pier Pavilion to host any art exhibition they see fit and maintain their Right to Offend and Right of Freedom of Expression. People may either attend or not, it is their free choice. Perhaps they should print #JeSuisPenarthPierPavilion T-shirts; I’m sure they would be a hit.

  21. Iestyn Jones says:

    There’s nothing edifying about this display – the artwork and the sentiment, is rabidly partisan, puerile and utterly devoid of talent or insight. Why the gallery management feel it is appropriate to support such a one-sided political rant beggars belief.

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