Skegness exhibition’s ‘blasphemous’ artwork would give Pope a ‘dicky fit’

Steve Gould and his 'Immaculate Conception.'
Steve Gould and his 'Immaculate Conception.'

An artist’s depiction of Christ painted using a condom is ‘blasphemous’ and ‘highly offensive’ to Catholics, a concerned gallery visitor has said.

The complainant, who did not wish to be named, was visiting the H-Art Gallery at the Hildreds Centre in Skegness, when she noticed Steve Gould’s ‘Immaculate Conception’ ink painting.

Despite enjoying the exhibition, she was concerned her devout Catholic friend would have been ‘upset terribly’ if she saw the Son of God portrayed using prophylactics, which her church frowns upon.

She said: “I enjoyed it thoroughly - there were so many beautiful art works there and I think Skegness should have more things like this but I do feel my friend would have been offended.

“At first I thought it was quite amusing but some people could say it was blasphemous and my friend, who is a devout Catholic, would have been terribly upset.

“I think His Holiness the Pope would have had a dicky fit.”

Mr Gould has defended his piece, which he says was not initially intended to represent Christ, whose likeness was purely coincidental and not even obvious to many viewers.

He said: “I did not set out to design an image of Christ using a condom - it was done as an experimental piece of art - I like to try methods that I’ve not seen done before.

“I can’t see it as being offensive - people take what they choose from art and most people haven’t even noticed the likeness.”

Fellow exhibitor John Byford has also defended the artwork and the right for artists to use challenging images.

He said: “Art will always be subjective and I think sometimes it should be provocative and challenge people’s views.

“Some of my work has been criticised but that’s not to say we shouldn’t show pieces that people are critical of - if we did that it would be the start of a slippery slope that we don’t want to go down.”

A special preview evening, exclusively featuring Mr Gould’s work, takes place at the gallery tomorrow from 4.30pm.

The Skegness based artist has welcomed the opportunity to display his work in such an accessible location and praised the venture as a great boost for the town.

He said: “It’s fantastic - it’s putting the heart back into Skegness.

“We had a thousand people come through the doors on Saturday and people have been telling us how great it is to have an old derelict shop brought back into use in such a positive way.”