In the wake of an article outlining a pattern of censorious behaviour by local Conservative councillors towards public art in the city, Southend Labour have called on them to stop their oppressive and stifling attitude towards local artists.
The article in Artefact Magazine titled “Under pressure: The Attack on Art in Southend” details how in 2021 Gabriella Hirst’s An English Garden was removed from its site in Shoeburyness after Conservative councillors disagreed with it highlighting local history in relation to nuclear weapons and threatened “a national media campaign targeting her work and associated arts organisations” if it were not removed. The article goes on to outline how local artist Emma Edmondson suffered objection and pushback to her project, Made from this Land, which celebrates the local history of brickmaking. At council meetings Conservative and independent councillors repeatedly attempted to block the installation.
Cllr Kevin Robinson, Labour’s shadow cabinet member for Arts & Culture, said, “The recent Artefact Magazine about public art in Southend gives an opportunity to show as a council we understand that public art has a place in our city and using section 106 money from developers for it is entirely appropriate.
“As one local MP pushes for us to be a future city of culture, the backdrop of Conservative councillors having previously censored an art installation puts at risk artists’ freedom of expression and risks driving away organisations like Metal who understand the art community far better than councillors.
“We should appreciate those who put their creative talents forward for the betterment of our city and encourage them wherever we can.”