Art triggers diverse opinion as the word ‘PORN’ appears on high street building

A piece of art masquerading as a road sign has got locals hot under the collar in Forres with the word ‘PORN’ appearing in large letters on the side of a building in Forres High Street.

The giant letter tiles spelling out the word have gone up at Gallery Pop as part of an art exhibition running throughout October, and according to the artist, it compares the prevalence of pornography in today’s society with the ubiquitous presence of road signs.

But almost as soon as the sign was erected, people have taken to a Facebook group to express themselves.

The four-letter word has stimulated an intense conversation with opposing views, and some wondering if we’re getting another new shop on the high street.

Gallery Pop owner Georgina Porteous told us the artwork is part of an exhibition running throughout October.

Reaction

She said she had also had a lot of reaction at the gallery, including someone coming in to the venue to shout at her, and MP Douglas Ross asking her take it down.

Some of the comments on Everyday Forres include:

“More art in Forres”, “Art is what you can get away with”, “Makes a change from charity shops and fast food outlets”, “It’s an art form that some folk admire and some not so much, I prefer it to the smashed bottles and dog sh** that’s usually left on the street.”

But equally, people were disgusted: “Horrible”, “there are a lot of things I would like to see on the high street, that is not one of them”, “Yeah great when your 9-year-old asks what it means.”

Ms Porteous has also contributed to the conversation, saying “It’s triggering conversation about a subject that most find uncomfortable to talk about. We need to talk about it more.”

Kirtsin Reitsch added: “Artistic expression raising the stakes, I’m fascinated by the outrage over a word yet many happily give smartphones to their children allowing them to be two clicks away from actual porn.”

Exhibition

The display is part of the first Pop Members’ Show running throughout October, and is artist Mark Creaney’s sole contribution to the show, which includes work from other members of the recently opened venue.

He told us: “The work is about the all pervasive nature of pornography in our culture. Mimicking road signage made it more site specific.

“Road signs are everywhere and taken for granted and pornographic images are everywhere online, whether is sexy images to sell perfume or hardcore images in search engines ..both ar part of outer culture.

“This is not a pro porn piece. I think the easy access to porn in our culture is damaging kids.”

Six points

The letters are formed on square tiles, and placed vertically as if in a game of Scrabble, each tile having a score. And despite its shock value, the short word would only total six points if played in Scrabble.

He said he often used children’s games and puzzles in his work to deal with serious and sometimes distasteful themes.

“I use the numbers to conjure the image of Scrabble in the viewer, putting a game metaphor into play. At first glance the work can seem playful, but can contain a more challenging subtext.

“I want the viewer to look at the piece and think, form their own views on it, make the connections.

“It is a good opportunity for parents to engage with their kids on the subject. before they encounter it on their own, as kids are becoming aware of images at a younger age these days.”

Moray MP Douglas Ross said he had received several complaints from local residents about the sign. He said: “Given the number of people who got in touch, I contacted the person in charge at the gallery on Sunday and advised them of the complaints.

“I asked if planning permission had been sought for the sign and when I was advised that it had not been I informed them that I would be contacting Moray Council, asking them to look into the situation.”

The Pop Members’ Exhibition at 44 High Street runs until 30 October, and is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 3:30pm, and is free to attend.

Other contributors include Ailsa Roberston, Rachel Maclure, Toni Harrower, Madeleine Daly, Shaun Macdonald, Steve Smith, Charis & I, Georgina Porteous, Emily Coulson, Gemma Petrie, Jamie Davidson, Deborah Hart, Leah Davis.

The Facebook conversation is ongoing: https://www.facebook.com/groups/341262659973507

4 thoughts on “Art triggers diverse opinion as the word ‘PORN’ appears on high street building”

  1. You nimby naysayers get a grip on reality. It’s pop up art and a good conversation starter. Obviously hitting the target too. I wonder, are the young kids asking about the sexist tabloid headlines shown in newspaper stalls every day? Daily Star for example? Internet search engines? These complainers are the kind of people that would put a blanket over Michelangelo’s David.

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