Torture and mutilation images on show in Olympics ‘High St 2012’ church

Disturbing images of torture and female genital mutilation are being displayed in a church in London’s East End situated right on the Olympics ‘High Street 2012’.

They include a sculpture of an anonymous prisoner by Chilean torture survivor Santiago Bell, who was held for two years after the 1973 military coup when the Allende government fell.

The images on show are part of a contemporary exhibition by artists past and present being staged at Bow Methodist Church in Bow Road by the Colloquy Arts & Theology project.

Sculptor David Moore, who organized the six-week event, said: “The exhibition is in a significant period for the East End in 2012, when the world’s spotlight is on east London.”

But the art world’s spotlight is on the wood carving by Santiago Bell, who became a founding member in his exile of east London’s Bow Arts group at the Bromley-by-Bow centre in the 1980s.


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Santiago, who died of cancer in 2005 at his home in Hoxton, once said of his imprisonment: “They tried to kill me slowly by beatings, torture and madness in solitary confinement.

“People say this has made me wise—I’d rather be stupid and not have had that lesson.”

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Organisers say some works on show invite viewers to think about disturbing issues such as exile, torture, and female mutilation.

A painting by Fiona Dent showing cherries, scissors and a scalpel has the sinister title ‘Female Genital Mutilation.’

Other artists on show are Derek Bird, Aaron Distler, Len Gifford, Dan Jones, Robert Koenig, Jean Lamb, Samuel Rosell Masdeu, Cheryl Montgomery, Smith and Moore, John Muafangejo (1943 -87), Nicholas Mynheer, Willi Soukop (1907-95), Philip Spence, Phil Summers, Sally Tyley, Arun Weys and Hasina Zaman.

The free exhibition runs to September 1, open Monday to Saturday, 12 noon to 6pm.

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