Thatcher puppet upsets churchmen

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The Independent Online
CHURCH leaders last night criticised as 'highly offensive' a Spitting Image exhibition portraying Baroness Thatcher as Christ at the Last Supper.

The tableau, which parodies the Leonardo da Vinci painting, shows her ministers as disciples.

Father Ian Dickie, archivist to Cardinal Basil Hume, accused the Spitting Image team of 'corrupting Christian symbolism'. He called for Christians to boycott the exhibition, which opens at the Barbican Centre in London on Thursday. 'The Archbishop of Westminster and the Archbishop of Canterbury would both be offended by it,' he said. 'The whole thing is highly offensive, but that's the sort of lavatory humour one comes to expect from Spitting Image.'

The offending work shows Virginia Bottomley serving Neil Kinnock's head on a plate, Nigel Lawson attempting to stab Lady Thatcher in the back and Michael Heseltine putting the finishing touches to a crucifix. A side scene shows the late media tycoon Robert Maxwell wearing inflatable armbands, with a fish flopping out of his pocket.

The puppets are part of The Cutting Edge, an exhibition of political satire by contemporary British cartoonists and artists.

Westminster Cathedral chaplain Father John Arnold was also unhappy about the lampoon. 'It's rather a shame that people who would like to make a point strongly sometimes don't consider the ramifications of riding roughshod over other people's sensibilites.'

A spokesman for the Barbican Centre commented: 'I'm a strong Christian, but also a realist, and I think it's incredibly funny.'