SO Festival sperm whale photo ban over 'sexual' title

Image of a dead sperm whale washed up on Skegness beach
Image caption A shot of a dead sperm whale with a "sexually explicit" title was highlighted by organisers as not being suitable for a family audience
John Byford with one of his images
Image caption John Byford said his art is about making people smile
Woman on the beach
Image caption The Skegness artist said he had grown up on the coast and his work was inspired by saucy postcards, once popular with visitors
Man coming out of a toilet block in Skegness
Image caption He said: "If the organisers and council wanted pretty birds flying across meadows they should have asked someone else - they know what I do"

Photographs have been withdrawn from an arts festival after the organisers objected to an image of a sperm whale with a "sexual" title.

The work by photographer John Byford was due to be projected on to buildings in Horncastle, Lincolnshire, as part of the SO Festival.

The organisers said they did not object to all of the images - including one of a man drinking wine in his underpants.

But they said the title of the whale photo was not suitable for families.

Mr Byford said he withdrew all of his photographs from the exhibition after meeting organisers.

Festival director Robin Morley said: "Both myself and East Lindsey District Council did not have an issue with the image of the man in his underpants.

"However, we did have an issue with the image of two very young boys looking into the mouth of a dead sperm whale."

The title of the piece was an innuendo containing the word sperm.

Saucy postcard inspiration

Mr Morley added: "When we saw the work, we thought the combination of the image and the title could be interpreted in several ways, some of which had very strong sexual connotations which would not be fitting to put in front of a family audience.

"This situation is not about censorship or banning art, it is about displaying artwork that is appropriate to the audience that will see it."

Mr Byford, from Skegness, said he had grown up on the coast and his work was inspired by saucy postcards, once popular with visitors.

Mr Byford said: "I think that's what we are missing in society - we are so wrapped up in cotton wool when I do stuff like this it does provoke a reaction - but usually it's a smile or a laugh."

"That's life and that's what I do - capture life."

He said it was up to people to make their own minds up - it was not for the council and the organisers to ban his images.

"If you have the image on its own it means nothing - if you have the title on its own it means nothing - but the two combined makes a piece of art.

"The two go hand in hand," he added.

He said the whale image was previously seen by about 8,000 people in Skegness without a single complaint.

This year's SO Festival runs from 28 June to 7 July.

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