Medusa painting creates controversy at art show

Artist Peter Groves with his painting Pegasus and Medusa
Artist Peter Groves with his painting Pegasus and Medusa

A PAINTING inspired by a famous Greek myth caused unexpected controversy after it was included in artist Peter Groves’s latest exhibition.

The work Perseus and Medusa, hanging as part of the exhibition Pandora’s Box and Other Stories, at the Isabel Blackman Centre, in Winding Street, was moved to a separate room over concerns that centre users may be upset.

It depicts an Action Man brandishing a sickle over a decapitated Barbie-Medusa, while a toy Pegasus rears up behind.

It took on unintended significance in the light of the recent killing of a soldier in Woolwich.

Two weeks in, and after further consideration, the painting was this week reinstated with the main body of work.

Peter said he had never intended to court controversy in this way. “I painted it about two years ago,” he said. “And they are stories thousands of years old. I am happy that it is now on display in the main gallery space.”

Isabel Blackman Centre manager Tania Chapman said that originally there had been concern that some of the centre’s older users may have found the painting upsetting.

She said: “First and foremost we are a community centre dealing with older people.”

Tania added that after further discussion the decision had been taken to move the painting back into the main space.

A major influence on Peter’s work is Robert Graves’s The Greek Myths, and the exhibition, which runs until June 20, is a series of paintings and three-dimensional pieces.

Rather than illustrating particular tales, he resurrects the narratives and injects them with undertones of sinister humour.