Students in e-mail plea

STUDENT artists who are running an exhibition called False Impressions? have been caught out misleading their peers about new security measures after their eye-catching Hollywood sign was vandalised.

STUDENT artists who are running an exhibition called False Impressions? have been caught out misleading their peers about new security measures after their eye-catching Hollywood sign was vandalised.

Postgraduate artists at the University of Essex were so appalled by damage caused by vandals who knocked over their giant sign on the hills above the gallery, they sent out an email to all students on the campus pleading everyone to respect it as a piece of art.

The email, which was sent on behalf of False Impressions?, explained the sign was an artwork currently showing at the University Gallery.

"Please do not vandalise it as this forms part of the degree assessment for MA Gallery Studies in the Department of Art History and Theory," it continued:

"There are now security cameras on the sign at all times and we will take any damage to the artwork very seriously."

One of the six student curators of the exhibition admitted there were not actually any cameras on the sign itself, but only in the area around it.

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Jane Fisher said: "The sign has been damaged twice now. While it was being built someone turned one of the letters around and when it was all pushed over on Thursday night, we were a little bit put out.

"We realise it was probably a prank – I think if they had done something a little more original, it wouldn't have been so bad.

"Nothing happened to it over the weekend, so hopefully the message has worked. We just want people to be able to enjoy the work for as long as possible.

"I am sure only a tiny minority of students would consider vandalism and we in no way intended to tar everyone with the same brush," she added.

Gareth Oughton, vice-president for communications for Essex Students' Union, said he was fully supportive of the warning.

He said: "I don't think any students would have taken the warning about vandalism as an insult. In fact, I think they appreciated being told what the sign was doing there – many didn't know what it was all about.

"I'm sure people will not think about doing any more damage – if they do it's highly likely the cameras will pick it up."

The exhibition, False Impressions?, is an attempt to make people look more closely at what is initially taken for granted.

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