“Police will not prosecute artist Bill Henson over his photographs of naked teenagers which were declared “mild and justified” by Australia’s Classification Board.
“NSW police previously said it was “likely” the artist would face prosecution after officers stormed Sydney’s Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery last month, seizing 20 of Henson’s photographs of a naked adolescent girl and boy in response to a complaint.
“An investigation into the photographs by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has been completed and submitted to NSW Police.
“NSW police on Friday indicated charges would not be laid.
“Central Metropolitan Region Commander Assistant Commissioner Catherine Burn said police were obliged to investigate the works following complaints from the public.
“Police did receive complaints and this has been a matter of significant public concern and debate. This is a complex area of law,” she said in a statement.
“Matters involving the law and art are notoriously difficult and that is why police sought this advice.
“We looked at the possibility of breaches of the Crimes Act. The advice given to us is that a successful prosecution was unlikely.”
“The Classification Board’s latest review of Henson’s work looked at a May 25 online blog which included a photo of naked adolescent female facing the camera, her genitals obscured by shadowing and her arms. Her breasts were visible.
“The author refers to the image as the one ‘that has created all the fuss amongst Sydney conservatives and led to their moral outrage,” the board’s report says.
“They are suffering deeply from a big disgust at the sexualised images of naked children. So here we go again on another round of banning and closing down art exhibitions’.”
The board ruled the image appears legitimately within the blog, but should be classified PG.
“In the board’s majority opinion, the content contains an image of breast nudity that alongside text which includes references to child pornography, pedophilia, child sexualisation and exploitation, creates a viewing impact that is mild and justified by context,” the board report said.
The works are now expected to be returned to the Roslyn Oxley9 gallery, police said.
No charges will be laid against the gallery.
Comment is being sought from its owners Tony and Roslyn Oxley, who are overseas and presently unavailable, a gallery spokeswoman told AAP.
“An art gallery forced to remove pictures of naked girls by photographer Bill Henson says it will re-exhibit them in the future now that the Classification Board has rated his most contentious work as PG.
“Police advised the Albury Regional Art Gallery to take down three Henson pictures, including two of young naked girls, after complaints last month.
“But a gallery spokesman today said he thought the works should now go back up.
“The Classification Board has ruled that a photograph of a naked girl, which Henson included on an invitation to his exhibition at the Roslyn Oxley9 gallery in Sydney, was “mild” and safe for many children to view….”
“Child welfare advocate Hetty Johnston, who made the original complaints to police about the Henson exhibition which resulted in works being seized, labelled the ruling “incomprehensible”.
“It doesn’t change anything, it just makes us more determined than ever,” she said.
“This is a picture of a naked 13-year-old child. We are just handing our children on a bloody plate to pedophiles.
“This is a disgrace for this country, absolutely shameful.”
Henson Photos For Show, Sydney Morning Herald.
“No charges will be laid over the National Gallery of Australia’s collection of photographs by artist Bill Henson.
The Australian Federal Police looked over the 79 works held in storage for signs of child pornography, but found no breach of the law.
Henson’s work has been the subject of much debate since New South Wales Police seized photographs featuring a naked 13-year-old girl from an exhibition at Sydney’s Roslyn Oxley9 gallery two weeks ago.
State prosecutors are still deciding whether to press charges over those images.
Henson avoids charges, ABC News.