Naked Statue of Artist Causes Stir

A Bridport artist who caused a flap when he exhibited a dead seagull in a cage got the bird again this week for his latest creation - a giant statue of himself in the nude.

Michael Chappell's exhibit called Marine Artist came a close second in the vote for the most popular piece of work at the recent Bridport Open Art Competition.

Made from wood and other debris he found on local beaches it was inspired by a painting by Lucien Freud and proved to be one of the most thought-provoking pieces at the show.

But Mr Chappell's fiercest critic, professional artist Len Wilshaw, 90, is still not impressed.

He described it as a "load of twigs stuck together" - not "a proper sculpture" at all.

Mr Chappell first ruffled feathers two years ago when his entry entitled simply "Bird" was awarded a first prize in the sculpture competition.

Featuring a bandaged bird in a cage it incorporated the head, wings and claws of a dead gull and was branded "sick" by Mr Wilshaw at the time.

This week Mr Chappell said he was delighted his latest work had been greeted with public acclaim rather than causing an upset.

"Paradoxically my work is intended to be taken seriously, and yet be humorous at the same time," he said.

"I was please that this piece was appreciated by even when my work offends people that is much better than being ignored.

"To those who say I only make these controversial constructions because I have no artistic talent I suspect they just have blinkered views about art."

But Mr Wilshaw retorted: "Call it a statement or even a work of art if you like," he said.

"It was certainly amusing but in my opinion a sculpture is something that is absolutely permanent and if you put that outside it would eventually disintegrate."

He said that since their public bust-up over the dead bird exhibit the two men had learned to get along.

Mr Chappell is inviting critics to his latest exhibition which opens at the Wellbeloved Gallery on Portland next week. - "to see if my paintings are more to their taste".

His work is also to be featured at Affordable Art at Christmas exhibition at the Emett Gallery in Beaminster.

My Wilshaw's sculptures can be viewed at the Pierrepoint Gallery in South Street, Bridport.

Bridport News: 21st Nov 2003 09:00:00

 

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