ePetition details

Reinstall An English Garden by Gabriella Hirst

We the undersigned petition the council to 1. Affirm its commitment to freedom of artistic expression and censure the unauthorised actions of the councillors which led to the removal of the artwork ‘An English Garden’ 2. Put structures and processes in place to protect artists, studios and commissioning organisations from such actions in future 3. Facilitate the permanent reinstallation of An English Garden in an appropriate, accessible and managed location within Southend Borough

On 23 June 2021 the organisation Metal took the decision to take down an artwork from Gunners Park in Shoeburyness called An English Garden by Gabriella Hirst. The work had been commissioned for the acclaimed Estuary 2021 festival by Metal and the artists charity The Old Waterworks. It was installed after having gone through all the correct governance procedures. The work had permission to remain in place until 31 August.

Metal were subjected to intense pressure from a few local Councillors who had taken a dislike to the work, eventually issuing a demand to remove it, and a threat that otherwise they would ‘take action’ against the work. Metal took the decision to remove the work to protect the wellbeing and mental health of their small team of staff.

Metal stated 'We absolutely stand with Gabriella and the content of her thoughtful, well-researched, beautiful work and the contemplative space that she brought to the duration of Estuary 2021. The work was in situ for 5 weeks, with many visitors and good engagement, and not one complaint from the public audience, residents or regular users of the park.'

The story has been covered in the national and local press, radio, television and on social media, and has attracted widespread condemnation. The unauthorised actions of these councillors and their effective censorship of the work has significantly damaged Southend's reputation as a forward looking and vibrant town which champions culture and the arts. Southend Council needs to take immediate strong affirmative action to put this matter to rights and demonstrate its commitment to freedom of artistic expression. It should give visitors and residents the opportunity to permanently enjoy and engage with An English Garden, issue an official statement censuring the councillors actions, and above all ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.

Started by: Mick Ekers

This ePetition ran from 04/08/2021 to 03/10/2021 and has now finished.

102 people signed this ePetition.


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