Cadbury shys off 'cacao phallus'

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The Independent Online
CADBURY, the chocolate manufacturer, has distanced itself from an exhibition by the controversial contemporary artist Helen Chadwick, fearing that her latest exhibit - a fountain of chocolate simulating faeces and 'base matter' - could tarnish its family image.

Ms Chadwick's new exhibition, Effluvia, opens at the Serpentine gallery in London on 19 July, drawing together her pet themes of genitalia, micturition, infection, decay and now faeces.

Technical experts from Cadbury provided technical assistance for the stainless steel fountain which is the centrepiece of the exhibition.

Initially Ms Chadwick denied there was any controversy over the fountain, exhibited under the name Cacao: 'I could understand if Piss Flowers was controversial but not the chocolate fountain,' she said. Piss Flowers, literally castings of piss holes in the snow, had excited strong views. Her latest work was nothing like that: 'It's just a stainless steel tank with hot chocolate pumped round so the smell of chocolate fills the gallery.'

Cadbury spokesman Richard Frost disputed claims that it had withdrawn its patronage for the exhibition. Its role had been solely to provide technical advice, he said. 'We were not sponsors of this exhibition so we could not have withdrawn sponsorship.'

Sadly, no-one informed the author of the exhibition catalogue, who added Cadbury to a list of sponsors and extended warm thanks to the chocolate maker in the preface.

The description of the chocolate fountain in the catalogue is more graphic than Ms Chadwick's and reveals why Cadbury was less than enthusiastic. It says the chocolate fountain, 'with its associations of earth, shit and 'base matter' is . . . disturbing and liberating. The molten, pumping eruptions of a cacao phallus girded by the obscene venting of glutinous bubbles make plain that forms are not fixed things.'

'Our name was used without our knowledge,' said a Cadbury spokeswoman. 'We are a family business and we made it clear to the gallery that we did not wish our name to be used.' When? 'I can't tell you that.' Why? 'Because I don't know.'

The result was a red-faced scramble at the gallery as pages in the exhibition catalogue which mention Cadbury were razored out. Curator Andrea Schlieker said: 'I don't want to speak about this. Any other aspect I'd be happy to talk about, but not this.'

Cadbury's discomfort is made worse by the fact that it is a member of the consortium due to launch the UK's national lottery. Around 25 per cent of the lottery's profits will go to good causes, including the arts.