Gallery attacked over 'insulting' artworks

A gallery showing inflammatory images of veiled Muslims, including a bare-breasted woman partially clad in a burqa, is under police surveillance after being attacked earlier this week.

Windows and doors at the SaLon Gallery in west London were smashed after a series of abusive, anonymous phone calls and angry protests about the images from Muslims. The gallery has complained to police.

The solo exhibition of paintings by Sarah Maple includes a veiled woman holding a pig, which is interpreted as a flagrant disregard of the Islamic ban on eating pork. The show – entitled "This Artist Blows" – also includes two self-portraits: one of Maple wearing a headscarf has an image of Kate Moss's naked breast attached to it; another shows Maple in a T-shirt bearing the slogan "I love jihad". In another, a veiled Muslim woman wears a badge that says "I love orgasms".

Last night, Maple, a 23-year-old of Kenyan and British parentage, defended her work, saying she had not meant to cause offence but to explore her Britishness and her Muslim faith. She voiced concern about her safety and said she hoped the exhibition of 39 pictures, which opened this month, would not be taken down before its official closing date of 23 November.

"I do think some people have just reacted to my work without thinking about the concepts behind it," she said. "I'm a practising Muslim and initially, when I started making the work, it was really personal, about my background with my father being British and my mother who is a Muslim and how I felt growing up. I was exploring the question of fusing those two together and whether it could be done."

Maple, from Sussex, has upset the Islamic world before. An exhibition by her earlier this year showed Muslim women in provocative poses, including one suggestively sucking on a banana. She won the Saatchi Prize last year for her self-portraits, some of which showed her in a headscarf smoking a cigarette. "People interpreted it as being related to sex, and that it was a post-sex light up," she said.

A spokeswoman for SaLon said the gallery in Bayswater, a part of London with a large Muslim population, was receiving about 12 abusive phone calls a day and emails condemning the show. Staff had to call police last week after an angry woman came in to complain. "She was in a full burqa and was irate and upset. Her behaviour was quite threatening," added the spokeswoman.

While some of Maple's paintings can be seen through the gallery's front window, the more controversial works are behind a curtain downstairs.

Mokhtar Badri, the vice-president of the Muslim Association of Britain, said that while he thought the exhibition provocative, he defended freedom of expression and condemned any violence inspired by the display. "I urged the gallery and the artist to respect the community in the area, but if Muslims see the work and dislike it, it is completely wrong to use any violent expression of that," he added.

Inayat Bunglawala, of the Muslim Council of Britain, agreed: "People may well have strong views on the use of Islamic imagery in Sarah Maple's exhibition. However, there can be no justification whatsoever for hooliganism of this sort or issuing threats."

Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne with his Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rowan Atkinson is bringing out Mr Bean for Comic Relief

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
V&A museum in London

Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project