“A long-forgotten 1960s censorship scandal about nudity in art has returned to the walls of the Mosman Art Gallery, whose director, Tony Geddes, is accused of censoring the work all over again to protect the sensibilities of the suburb’s ”conservative” residents.
The gallery is in the middle of a retrospective of the work of artist and Mosman resident David Perry, 76, whose experimental film A Sketch on Abigayl’s Belly was banned by the Commonwealth Film Censor in 1968.
The two-minute film of Perry’s then wife’s pregnancy, which features shots of her massaging oil into her breasts and other nudity, was seized by Customs officials and impounded when it returned from screening in the finals of the West German Short Film Festival in 1969.
Perry was a member of the Sydney-based film collective UBU Films. Its manager, Aggy Read, was convicted of exporting a banned film.
In 1970 Don Chipp, the minister for customs and excise, overturned the ban. The curator of the current exhibition, another UBU member, Albie Thoms, says the film has been screened without incident across Australia ever since.
Until now, according to Perry, who claimed yesterday Mr Geddes had refused to include the film in the retrospective. ”Tony Geddes said he couldn’t show it in Mosman because he was concerned that some of the conservative people in Mosman would be offended,” he said. ”It was disturbing because it is one of my best works.”
While Mr Geddes is on leave, the acting director of the Mosman Art Gallery, Katrina Cashman, said she was ”surprised” to hear of Perry’s complaint.
”From our perspective, that’s not what happened,” she said.
Mosman can’t stomach ’60s nude art film, Sydney Morning Herald