Artist's shock after nude paintings taken down

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The Independent Culture

An artist today said he was left "dumbfounded and astonished" after an exhibition of his nude paintings was taken down from a council office following complaints from staff.

John Vesty had arranged to display his paintings for four weeks at the North Norfolk District Council offices in Cromer.

But they were taken down and put out of sight in a cupboard after a number of staff complained the pictures were offensive.

"I was dumbfounded and astonished when I found out that they had all been taken down because there had been complaints," Mr Vesty, 57, was quoted in the Daily Mail as saying.

"I felt disbelief that someone could object to paintings like this in this day and age and that the council should respond in such a politically correct way by removing them.

"You think that this sort of thing only happens in the Middle East in places like Iran or Iraq rather than in a Norfolk seaside town."

Mr Vesty said the paintings were neither erotic nor pornographic.

But spokesman for North Norfolk District Council described some of the paintings as "rather graphic full frontal nudes".

Karl Read, the council's leisure and cultural services manager, said: "The artwork is displayed in an area that many members of our staff and the public have to use.

"In this case we received a number of complaints from members of staff and union representatives who found the paintings offensive.

"Whilst respecting the fact that art, by its very nature, is open to subjective interpretation, on this occasion the council made the decision to remove the paintings from display.

"This is not a case of political correctness. Rather, it is a balanced reaction to some members of staff finding the artwork offensive."

A selection of the paintings has now gone on display at the Arterie gallery, a short distance from the council offices.