An art exhibit at City Hall showing the Virgin Mary inside a birdcage — without a face and a hole through her head — has prompted calls of complaint to Bishop John Buckley’s office.
The item is part of an exhibition of artwork produced by Chinese and Irish artists in Cork City Hall that opened last month and runs until the end of this month.
The Legacy exhibition marks the Chinese New Year and celebrates the important connection between Cork and China.
Legacy is an independently-curated show by artist and curator Fionn Gunn, and is hosted by Cork City Council.
One of the pieces on show depicting the Virgin Mary has led to complaints from people offended that she is being shown in a disrespectful light.
A spokesperson for the Diocesan Office confirmed that a “number of calls” had been made to complain about the piece.
The spokesperson added that Bishop Buckley or the Diocesan office would not be commenting further as they had not seen the piece and had only recently became aware of its existence.
The City Council and the artist behind the piece said there was no intention whatsoever to offend anyone.
Artist Michelle O’Shea added that her piece was designed to make people question inhumane actions by mankind in both past and present.
She added: “The VM statue embodies all the virtues — beauty, love, grace, forgiveness and so on. Her faceless features allow one to see the diverse perspectives contained within social, religious, political and historical influences, dominated by judgement, fear and control.”
A spokesperson for Cork City Council said the cultural independence and freedom of expression of individual artists was important and was strongly endorsed and supported by the council.
She added: “Cork City Council understands that there are a wide range of views and differing opinions of this and indeed of a great deal of art work. This is a purpose of art, to ask people to ponder what they see beyond the surface of the work. There was no intention to cause offence by either the artist or Cork City Council.”
Virgin Mary face-off
Friday, February 07, 2014