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Arts / Arts student claims her work was censored when removed from exhibition space without her knowledge

Fine Arts student Elouise Spooner with one of large paintings.

A STUDENT in her final year of a fine arts BA (Hons) degree at Shetland UHI says she feels censored and disrespected after her large art installations were taken down from a public exhibition space without her knowledge and agreement.

Elouise Spooner, from Mossbank, told Shetland News she found her paintings “dumped” on the floor of the department’s office earlier this week.

Head of the arts department Dr Simon Clarke rejected any suggestion that Spooner’s work had been censored but apologised for the way the college’s actions were communicated.

Spooner said it was her understanding that the paintings had been taken down because of an alleged complaint about the content of her work, which explores her relationship with religion, alcohol and other past experiences.

In response Dr Clarke said the work had been removed in response to a request from other students and college staff, and added that Spooner’s work was not to everyone’s taste.

The 20-year-old student said: “I had had no communication from my head of department about this move, or clarification on why it was happening.

“As for the tutors, they did talk with me but were actively refusing to take it down in order to prevent censorship.”

Clarke said: “Clearly there has been a miscommunication, for which I’m happy to apologise.

“The need to take the work down and move it to a different part of the college was agreed with the students tutors two weeks ago and was supposed to have been discussed with them.

Her work ‘dumped’ on the floor of the department office.

“They have had a large very prominent place in the corridors for five months and we were responding to request from other students and some staff that could there please be a change of scenery.

“The work is quite difficult subject matter, not to everyone’s taste, and slightly problematic in a public stairway area used by other departments as well as art students. The student’s voice was not being censored if that is the concern.”

But Spooner said it was only her work that had been taken down.

“I had no clarification, discussion, or even email from my head of department and to write it off that level of miscommunication as a simple mistake isn’t good enough,” she said.

“No other student’s work this year has been taken down, despite it being up for as long as mine, and to excuse it as ‘not to everyone’s taste’ sounds a lot like censorship.

“This situation shows a lack of respect to the students as artists, and no student should have to make work in fear of it being taken down without their consent or warning.”

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