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TfL rejects Jesus poster on Tube

04 April 2014

A POSTER of a painting of Jesus, part of an art collaboration between the London Underground and a church, has been rejected by Tube bosses as being potentially offensive.

The black-and-white artwork (above) depicts a bound Jesus in a crown of thorns before a panel of judges in a mock TV reality show called Kill Your Idol. It was made by the artist Antony Micallef, and is currently on display at St Marylebone Parish Church, along with other pieces for the Lent exhibition "Stations of the Cross" (Arts, 28 March).

Various Tube stations are displaying posters of the works, but Mr Micallef's painting was rejected by Transport for London (TfL). In a statement, a spokeswoman for TfL said that the poster had been banned because it did not comply with its advertising policy.

The spokeswoman referred the Church Times to two sections of the policy. One clause states that adverts must not be "likely to cause widespread or serious offence to members of the public"; another bans adverts that "do not comply with the law, or incite someone to break the law".

Speaking to The Guardian, Mr Micallef said: "I am angry because it is censorship. It is not offensive. I don't understand why the church said yes and the Tube said no."

The Rector of St Marylebone, the Revd Stephen Evans, said that it was a shame TfL would not display the poster. "I thought that, of all the works, it was one that had no reason anyone could find not to put it on the Underground. It is not an image that could cause offence, it's not obscene. It is just a very, very strange decision."

A few of the other 20 artworks commissioned for the exhibition have also been rejected for display on the Tube, including a photograph of the late artist Sebastian Horsley being nailed to a cross.

Mr Evans told The Guardian that he was surprised that Mr Micallef's painting had been rejected. "In many ways, I think the work is one of the easier images to access. It . . . really does make people stop and think, especially if they like watching programmes like the X Factor. It makes you think about how Christ would bear up in front of a modern TV audience."

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