Police return photographs seized from gallery
Prime Minister described the depictions of adolescents by Bill Henson as “revolting”
By Katharine Albritton. Market, Issue 193, July-August 2008
Published online: 24 July 2008
LONDON. The New South Wales police force has decided not to prosecute the Roslyn Oxley9 gallery in Sydney or the artist Bill Henson for an exhibition of works that was shut down by the police.
On 22 May, police seized nearly 30 works by Henson just before his solo exhibition was about to open to the public. The show included photographs of naked adolescents which some people considered offensive. Catherine Burn of Central Metropolitan said: “The Police did receive complaints,” and thus were obliged to investigate. Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd also condemned the works the morning after the seizure, saying: “Frankly, I think they are revolting,” during a radio interview.
A spokesman for the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery confirmed that the police seized 12 photographs from the walls, and took a further 17 works from a storeroom. The gallery said that all the works were returned on Tuesday 10 June. Though the gallery was closed pending the investigation (during which time it showed at Art Basel), it reopened when police announced no charges were to be made. The Bill Henson exhibition was reopened to collectors by appointment and ended on 21 June.
The police said they were acting on advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions who informed them that there would be no reasonable prospect of a successful conviction. Henson and the gallery released a statement saying they “welcomed the decision” but were unavailable for further comment.
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