A CORK city exhibition of mosaics by artist Kirsten Murray has attracted protests from Catholics who said it promotes the devil.
The protestors, claiming to be members of the Legion of Mary, have approached staff at the gallery and café where the exhibition is on display, and urged the artist to remove her work, titled “The Devil’s Jigsaw,” which they believe shows depictions of the Devil.
The Legion of Mary has said it did not sanction the protests.
In visits to The Natural Foods Bakery on Paul Street, a café with a gallery space, protestors confronted café staff and the artist herself, requesting the exhibition be taken down.
“When I first heard about it from the café a few weeks ago I thought it was pretty funny; pure Father Ted,” artist Kirsten Murray said. “But then three people came and interrupted a group workshop on mosaic that I was teaching in the gallery.”
Confronted by three people who didn’t clearly identify themselves, Ms Murray tried to explain the meaning of the exhibition’s title, but was told that her art was “promoting bad ways” and that one of the mosaics depicted a white witch.
Ms Murray was told that the image displayed on posters for her event represented a devil or demon. “I don’t normally correct what people see in my work because I believe everyone should derive their own meaning from art, but actually it’s a picture of a naked woman drinking a bottle of wine,” she said.
“Even if I had done a picture of the Devil himself, it wouldn’t mean I was promoting it, or agreeing with it,” Ms Murray said.
“I told them specifically that I wasn’t a Satanist… and I’m not; I’ll go on the record with that one.”
Natural Foods Bakery café and gallery owner, Orla O’Byrne, said the complaints were “a complete misreading of Kirsten’s beautiful work.”
“We were made aware of the first complaint by staff three weeks ago, but the person didn’t leave any contact details and we decided not to pursue it,” Ms O’Byrne said.
“These people have been in bothering staff at least three times since then. When they came in to interrupt Kirsten’s workshop, they went too far. Kirsten has dealt with this in a really dignified and respectful manner.”
The Legion of Mary has said the protest was not sanctioned and that anyone participating in it was doing so an individual rather than as a member of The Legion.
“There is no way our organisation would stand over the kind of behaviour you were subjected to,” the organisation said in an email to the artist.