Artist quits academy over refusal to show Hindley picture

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The Independent Online
The acclaimed British sculptor, Michael Sandle, known for his spare and functional work in metal, has resigned from the Royal Academy in protest at the inclusion of the contentious portrait of the child killer Myra Hindley in its new Sensation exhibition.

"I have had enough," Mr Sandle following the meeting with fellow academicians, several of whom were also incensed by what they saw as an insensitive decision to display Marcus Harvey's painting in which the Moors murderer's face is depicted with the handprints of young children.

The academy voted 26 to 19 in favour of hanging the portrait, called Myra, in spite of the pleas of one of the murdered children's mothers, Winnie Johnson.

The Sensation exhibition, which opens to the public on Thursday next week is drawn from the collection of Charles Saatchi and also features the work of former Turner prize winners Rachel Whiteread and Damien Hirst.

Sandle, 61, said he had come to object to what he saw as the academy being manipulated by its exhibitions secretary, Norman Rosenthal. For him, this new and deliberately shocking exhibition was the last straw, he said, adding that the academy's magazine had also been hijacked, becoming not much more than a propaganda sheet for contemporary art.

"Should the Academy be putting on a major show for the benefit of Mr Saatchi who, though heralded as an important collector of contemporary art, is to all intents and purposes a dealer?" he asked.

Artists Anthony Green, Craigie Aitchison and Peter Coker are among the other academicians either opposed to the Hindley portrait, or to what they regard as the attention-seeking nature of the new exhibition itself.