Plod plod plod swan plod plod plod bestial plod plod art plod plod filth filth filth plod plod plod…


There were no complaints from the public when a Mayfair gallery exhibited a dramatic modern rendering of the ancient Greek myth of Leda and the swan in its window.

But the sensitive souls of the Metropolitan Police took a different view when they spotted Derrick Santini’s photograph of a naked woman being ravished by the bird.

An officer took exception as he passed the Scream gallery in Bruton Street on a bus. He alerted colleagues and two uniformed officers from Harrow arrived to demand the work be removed.

Jag Mehta, sales director at the gallery owned by Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood’s sons Tyrone and Jamie, said: “We asked them what the problem was and they said it suggested we condoned bestiality, which they said was an arrestable offence. The show, Metamorphosis, had been running for a month and was really well received.”

The final day of the exhibition was on Saturday and the gallery was taking down the artworks when police arrived. Ms Mehta pointed out that for prim Victorians, the myth of how Zeus, in the form of a swan, raped young Leda and produced Helen of Troy, was an acceptable form of erotica. But the explanation that the picture was based on a legend that had inspired countless generations of artists failed to cut the mustard with the police, she said.

“They didn’t know anything about the myth. They stood there and didn’t leave until we took the piece down. They asked us whether we had had complaints and we said quite the contrary. Lots of people were intrigued by it.”

She admitted she did not know what they would have done, had the officers arrived before the exhibition was over. “I guess it would have been a discussion with the artist and the owners to see whether we changed the work in the show.

“I don’t know the law. I would like to think we wouldn’t have shied away from it but it’s difficult to say.”

Jamie Wood said Santini’s work, called A Fool for Love, was on display for a month and received only positive comments from the public. “It was not meant to deliberately shock or offend. However, the purpose of art is to provoke debate and Derrick’s piece has certainly done this.”

He said they honoured the police request as they were due to install work by a new artist. “We would of course have fought to keep the piece up otherwise. If anyone wants to view it, we still have it at the gallery.”

It is understood that the incident was not recorded by police as a crime.


Occasionally I disturb my students with a Greek myth or two, especially Pasiphae and the bull. That really grosses them out.


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