Complaints over covered up paintings and sculptures at Cragside

Cragside house. Picture by Jane Coltman.
Cragside house. Picture by Jane Coltman.

Dozens of complaints were made over the decision to cover up paintings and sculptures depicting men at a National Trust property in Northumberland.

The three-week exhibition at Cragside, near Rothbury, ended on Sunday. Some of the paintings were hidden behind white sheets, while sculptures of men had bags placed over their heads.

The organisers put up a poster to explain the thinking behind these actions, saying the purpose of the exhibition was to ‘draw attention to the lack of representation of women at Cragside’.

It also said: ‘Male paintings, prints and photographs have been covered downstairs. Male sculptures have been covered upstairs.

‘Covers have been designed to comply with conservation requirements of the collection and are made from specialist conservation material’.

However, visitors to the former home of Victorian industrialist Lord William Armstrong complained that it was unfair on them to not be able to see the full collection.

A National Trust spokesman said: “We know it is not unusual for some people to dislike or disagree with what they see in contemporary art.

“This temporary student exhibition at Cragside was not about censoring art or being politically correct, but to encourage people to look at the collection differently and stimulate debate.

“We encourage our properties to test new ways of telling their stories and there are countless examples of where that works. Sometimes it doesn’t work as we intended and we accept the feedback we have received.

“As with all exhibitions, we listen to all views in guiding how we plan future activity.”