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Nude paintings removed from Norwich shop window after complaints

PUBLISHED: 17:56 17 February 2012

Artist Peter Kavanagh, left, and shop owner Martin Price find a way of displaying the nude paintings in the window at Sinsin's in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Artist Peter Kavanagh, left, and shop owner Martin Price find a way of displaying the nude paintings in the window at Sinsin's in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2012

Norfolk police have been called in to deal with complaints over offensive shop window displays in Norwich for the second time in a month.

Officers visited Sinsin’s Love Store on Charing Cross on Valentine’s Day to give “words of advice” to the owner, who removed two paintings of full-frontal male nudes from display.

The paintings, by artist Peter Kavanagh, were part of an exhibition at the shop since January 30 but two complaints from the public prompted police to intervene.

In January, a display depicting a mannequin urinating on a wall had to be taken down from a shop window at clothes shop Philip Browne in Guildhall Hill, after a single complaint to police.

Martin Price, owner of Sinsin’s, defended the paintings, saying they were not “Mickey Mouse paintings” but art in their own right.

“I understand that there’s an issue with them not giving people the choice to see them or not, but I don’t think these pieces are offensive.

“The shop has been moving towards a more mature and cultured outlook recently, and this is part of it.

“We chose a couple of male frontal nudes and put them up in the shop window to see what the reaction was.

“They’ve had a phenomenal reaction – from customers, investors, and people who have come into the shop just to appreciate the art.”

The shop had twice been visited by police in the previous week after members of the public alerted them to the paintings.

“They told me they’d had a call to alert them, just to tip them off,” said Mr Price. “But they were brilliant – really appreciative and sensitive to the situation.”

Mr Kavanagh said the complaints at the paintings were “a real shame” and reflected people’s inhibitions.

“But what’s disappointing, as always, is that the whole lot had to be cleared because of just two people.

“We’ve heard nothing but positive reactions, but the silent majority have been beaten by a few complaints. They lump it in with their own attitudes and outlook.

“We had private viewings which were very successful, so maybe we got a little carried away and thought everybody really enjoyed it.”

A Norfolk Constabulary spokesman said: “We can confirm that we have received complaints from two members of the public about a painting of a male nude in a shop window display.

“As a consequence, an officer called into the shop to discuss the issue and gave words of advice to the owner.

“The shop owner agreed to move the painting away from the window and we now consider the matter closed.”

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