Artwork offends hospital staff

AN ESSEX artist was stunned after hospital bosses told her to take down an exhibition because staff were offended by the work.

James Hore

AN ESSEX artist was stunned after hospital bosses told her to take down an exhibition because staff were offended by the work.

Art student Niki Reid applied to have her work displayed at Colchester General Hospital and was given the go-ahead to put up a 12 pieces for a month.

However, the 49-year-old from Abberton, near Colchester, was stunned when she received a phone call just two days later asking her to take it down from the corridor walls because staff were upset.

Mrs Reid, who is about to begin a Masters Degree in Fine Art, said she told some people had been shocked by what they had seen.

She had placed the dozen works in the first-floor corridor just yards from a restaurant in the hospital and believes it may have actually been concerns about hygiene which prompted the complaints.

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Mrs Reid's work had previously been on display in exhibitions at the Minories Gallery in Colchester and on other occasions at venues in London.

Both “Toothbrush” and “Hairbrush” contain hair in the collages, but it is not human hair while another piece features a blue t-shirt with open blister packets of the drug Thyroxin.

The Colchester Institute graduate said she had no intention of offending people with the work and had held back other pieces which she thought inappropriate for the hospital.

She said: “The work was meant to be amusing - not shocking - I respect the decision of the hospital, this is the last thing that I wanted to do was offend anybody.

“However, as artists, we are not here to encourage complacency amongst people and I was a little surprised that it was the staff who had complained.

“It was especially strange that they took offence to the one with the empty medicine packets as it is something that they are dealing with every day of the week.”

She said her fellow artists had been in touch to offer their support after last week's problems.

A spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust said: “We have received complaints from staff and share their view that this artwork is inappropriate for a public corridor at a busy hospital which is used by many people, including children.

“All artists who exhibit here sign an agreement that states that the trust reserves the right to take down work that is considered to be inappropriate and this is the action that we have taken on this occasion.”

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