Preston artist has ‘Nazi’ artwork rejected from Harris Open exhibition

Posted on - 22nd February, 2021 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Arts, Politics, Preston Council, Preston News, What's On in Preston
The Harris in Preston city centre Pic: Tony Worrall
The Harris in Preston city centre Pic: Tony Worrall

A Preston artist has expressed her frustration at having her artwork rejected by the city’s Harris Museum for potentially causing offence.


The Harris Open is taking place online this year and each year encourages artists from in and around Preston to submit their works of art.

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Disgruntled artist Liz Halpin sent a piece of artwork to the competition, which was rejected on the basis that it could be deemed offensive.

Liz told Blog Preston: “The Harris wrongly thought the painting depicts a Nazi uniform, but it is a German army uniform.

“They felt it was controversial. It is titled Mein Sohn and is a portrait of my son who is a World War Two recreationist.”

The painting in question – ‘Mein Sohn’

Catherine Jackman, Programme and Collections Manager at the Harris, wrote to Liz to explain why her artwork was rejected.

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In an email seen by Blog Preston, Catherine said: “Upon review, following a¬†wider¬†discussion within the senior management team and consulting and seeking advice from an¬†an¬†academic,¬†it is with deep regret that we¬†have taken the difficult decision to¬†be unable to show your piece entitled¬†Mein Sohn‚Ä謆on this occasion.

“This is due to the subject matter of the painting which we understand to depict a¬†Nazi uniform¬†and no reflection on the medium or quality of the work. This is in line with our terms and conditions.

“Unfortunately, the gallery space within the Open does not provide room for context or further explanation in the form of text panels or detailed labels due to the sheer volume of works and we feel that without context this work could be interpreted in a controversial manner.

“When exhibiting a work of this nature, our display policy would be to provide detailed context to explain why we are displaying such a piece and this is not an available option due to the nature of the Open Exhibition.”

Liz has since collected her artwork from The Harris.

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A spokesperson from Preston City Council said: “The team at The Harris continue to work hard to make art accessible to everyone through technology during this difficult time and it‚Äôs been fantastic to see so many different pieces submitted for the Harris Open.

“Due to limited space within the galleries there is no room for text panels or detailed labels that provide pieces of art with the context they sometimes require.

“Our galleries team were mindful that without additional context the symbolism of this piece may cause offence and therefore this piece of art had to be returned to the artist.”

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Do you think this piece of artwork could cause controversy without context? Let us know in the comments below.

Preston in pictures The Station, Preston. 1539Adelphi quarter , preston , 23.06.2022St Walburge's Church, preston 23.06.2022Former Tithebarn pub and Preston Bus StationHarris Museum and Art GalleryRed telephone boxesRed telephone box on Market StreetPreston 2022 View more Advertisement Subscribe to the newsletter

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