Tory MP slams 'sick and offensive' suicide vest art show in Bournemouth

28 October 2021, 13:59

MP criticises use of suicide vests in Bournemouth art show.
MP criticises use of suicide vests in Bournemouth art show. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

An art exhibition featuring suicide bomb vests has been criticised as "tasteless and insensitive" by the former Conservative defence minister, Tobias Ellwood.

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A collection of mounted bronze cast vests, based on YouTube videos and internet images of suicide bombers, are currently on display in Bournemouth.

Created by brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman, the artwork has been described as "a dialogue with death and beauty" and is meant to represent the "risk and danger" associated with being an artist combined with an artist’s "fight for belief".

But the Conservative MP for Bournemouth East branded the artwork as "offensive" and has called for it to be "immediately removed".

His criticism comes after his brother Jonathan died in the 2002 Bali bombing.

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Speaking to the Daily Mail, Mr Ellwood said: "My brother was killed by a terrorist wearing one of these jackets.

"I strongly urge this insensitive exhibition to be removed immediately.

"It is tasteless, offensive and irresponsible and I hope the exhibitors will act swiftly in taking it down.

"As the [recent] loss of a colleague in parliament illustrates, the threat of extremism is very real with individuals radicalised by what they read and see.”

Appearing on Sky this morning, he added: "Yes, we live in a free country but with those freedoms of expression come I think a sense of responsibility, a sense of duty to be sensible and sensitive about the context in which you use those freedoms.

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"It is my personal view, I make it very clear, to display a suicide vest in this way and label it a ‘monument to mortality’ is pretty sick but I will go further than that and say it is the wider issue of self-radicalisation that I would urge the gallery to consider."

The brothers are well known for their shocking, macabre art which often attracts criticism and acclaim.

Their work has previously included a crazy golf ornament of Hitler saluting and paintings of hippie motifs on 13 water colours originally produced by the Fuhrer.