October 19, 2019 08:35:58

A Queensland council will replace a “strategic bush” outside its arts centre to hide the vagina on a sculpture called Birth of Venus following a complaint.

Key points:

  • Moreton Bay Council has agreed to replace a bush that had previously been concealing controversial sculpture, Birth of Venus
  • The move comes after a complaint from a Bribie Island resident, who said it was “vulgar”
  • Sculptor Antone Bruinsma said his work was about “beauty and light and love”

Bribie Island’s Lulu Drew lodged the complaint with the Moreton Bay Regional Council after she visited the Bribie Island Community Art Centre and noticed the sandstone sculpture was showing “private bits”.

Ms Drew said she had visited the centre with an elderly gentleman, and they “didn’t know where to look”.

Ms Drew then contacted a former Moreton councillor who told her the statue was the same one that had previously been removed from a public park because of complaints.

History of the Birth of Venus

In 2008, the sculpture created headlines after then Caboolture mayor Allan Sutherland ordered it to be moved from a park at Woorim.

Mr Sutherland said at the time it had been moved as it was “offensive to women” after vandals painted the vagina pink.

On Friday, a Moreton Bay Regional Council spokesman said the sculpture — a three-part sandstone sculpture with a shell, Venus and a plaque — had been at the centre for more than a decade following the Woorim incident.

The sculpture had at one stage sat at the back of the art centre before being relocated to the front 12 months ago.

But it was only after a bush concealing the genitalia was removed that it became an issue again and prompted Ms Drew’s complaint.

“A bush that was planted at the centre was stolen and we’re going to replace it,” the spokesman said.

Location and pose

Ms Drew said the garden had been hiding the “private parts so you couldn’t see them”.

“You can’t unsee it once you’ve seen it,” she said.

Ms Drew said she believed a “woman laying down in a foetal position with its private bits poking at you” wasn’t appropriate for a public space.

“It’s the location of where they have put this,” she said. “As you enter the community centre and there she is.”

She said the centre was used for markets and “little kids go and get face painted”.

“They’re walking in and there is this lady lying in the foetal position,” Ms Drew said.

“She is obese, she has got an oversized hand that she is sucking on her thumb and her feet are abnormally big and, between her thighs is poking out the outer lips of a woman’s flower.

Ms Drew said she wasn’t ashamed of the female body, but the sculpture had a “very distasteful pose.”

She said Bribie Island was home to many older people and her complaint was partly about “respecting your elders”.

Sculpture got people talking

Artist Antone Bruinsma, who created the work, said he was saddened that the council was once again covering up his work.

He said he feared it could be “dumbing down our artistic environment”.

“I think the Birth of Venus is a successful sculpture as it has got people talking,” Mr Bruinsma said.

“I don’t mind if people disagree with what I create, but does that mean that any council must move an artwork, or place a bush or tree strategically, that somebody complains about?

“That in in itself could lead to a dumbing down of our artistic environment. And even lead to a ridiculous path of anything being objectionable by anyone for any reason.”

He said his piece was not meant to be confronting, but an artwork of “beauty and light and love”.

“We’ve got existence and life all around us,” he said.

“It’s so important to embrace art, instead of the violence we are confronted with on TV every day.”








First posted

October 19, 2019 08:24:35

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