# 44011

HENSON, Bill (1955 -)

Bill Henson : private view

$125.00 AUD

Sydney : RoslynOxley9 Gallery, 2008. Exhibition invitation card, 210 x 150 mm, folded card, illustration on upper panel. A fine copy.

The highly controversial invitation to Henson’s 2008 exhibition which saw the entire exhibition confiscated by police and the Prime Minister denounce the works as ‘absolutely revolting’.

‘On 22 May 2008, the opening night of Bill Henson’s 2007–2008 exhibition at the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in Paddington, Sydney, was canceled after eight individual complaints were made to Police voicing concerns about an email invitation from the Gallery to a “Private View” that depicted photographs of a nude 13-year-old girl. Hetty Johnston, a child protection advocate also lodged a complaint with the New South Wales police. On the same day a Sydney Morning Herald columnist, Miranda Devine, had also written a scathing article in response to viewing the email invitation, which precipitated heated talk-back and media discussion throughout the day. In the process of removing the images from the Gallery, Police found more photographs of naked children on exhibition among various large formatphotographs of nonfigurative subjects, which they later sought to examine for the purposes of determining their legal status under the NSW Crimes Act and child protection legislation.[25] Following discussions with the Gallery and a decision by Henson, the Gallery canceled the opening and postponed the show.

It was announced on 23 May that a number of the images in the exhibition had been seized by police local Area Commander Alan Sicard, with the intention of charging Bill Henson, the Gallery, or both with “publishing an indecent article” under the Crimes Act. The seized images were also removed from the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery website, where remainder of the series could be viewed online.

The situation provoked a national debate on censorship. In a televised interview, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stated that he found the images “absolutely revolting” and that they had “no artistic merit”. These views swiftly drew censure from members of the ‘creative stream’ who attended the 2020 Summit convened by Rudd (18-19 April 2008), led by actress Cate Blanchett.

On 5 June 2008 the former director of the National Gallery of Australia, Betty Churcher, said it was “not surprising” that the New South Wales Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) would announce its official recommendation that no charges be laid regarding the Sydney Roslyn Oxley9 gallery’s collection of photographs by artist Bill Henson. Ms Churcher said it would have been ridiculous to drag the case through the courts:

I’m very pleased that the public prosecutor has decided that it’s likely to end the debacle because they always do, as soon as you take art into court it never works … The court is not the place to decide matters of art.

On 6 June 2008 it was reported in The Age that police would not prosecute Bill Henson over his photographs of naked teenagers, after they were declared “mild and justified” and given a PG rating by the Australian Classification Board, suggesting viewing by children under the age of 16 is suitable with parental guidance.[

Australian scholar Niall Lucy criticized Devine’s response to Henson’s art in his 2010 book Pomo Oz: Fear and Loathing Down Under. David Marr’s book about the 2008 incident The Henson case was listed for the 2009 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and the 2009 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. ‘ Wikipedia

The rare printed invitation to the sensationalised event.