22 May 2008

Police halt Bill Henson opening on child sexualisation investigation.

NSW Police closed down the opening night of Australian and international photographer Bill Henson's new show at the Roslyn Oxley Gallery in Sydney's Paddington this evening.

I was on the scene when two NSW Police walked from the building and advised the waiting media and bemused art lovers like myself that the gallery owners and Bill Henson had halted the opening pending an investigation by the NSW Child Protection Authority. Henson was seen leaving before Police made the announcment.

Police said they would be interviewing one of the subjects of the photographs and her parents.

Henson's work is renowned for it's use of young models set against lush and often opulent settings. He featured in a major retrospective at the NSW Art Gallery in 2006.

NSW Police were reacting to a piece by Sydney Morning Herald journalist Miranda Devine in Wednesday's edition which in turn fueled Sydney's incendiary talk back radio commentators with critics describing the images as contributing to the sexualisation of children.

Expect outrage from many quarters against the conservative Devine's outpourings and a backlash from both the Australian art world and media and the start of a new round of censorship.