Nude art finds home in ex-church
A NUDE portrait hung in the vicinity of a crucifix has raised a few eyebrows at one of Ipswich's newest art galleries.
Naked Arts, on the corner of East and Roderick streets, opened in the old Congregational Church earlier this month.
The painting, titled Ellouise on Borrowed Time, by artist Kristy Day, has been on display since the gallery's launch.
The gallery retained many of its holy insignia, including the crucifix which once stood over an altar.
Naked Arts manager Tom Mason said the 200 guests at the gallery's opening weren't bothered by the entwining of art and religion.
"I had the opportunity to remove the cross as the building is no longer dedicated to being a church but I chose to keep it and other symbols as part of the heritage of the buildings," he said.
Rather than attempting to cause a stir, Mr Mason said the painting arrived late and the location next to the crucifix was the only spot left.
"People tend to look at the overall thing here. When they walk in and see the whole building, they can see it is a project," he said.
Mr Mason said nudes and religion had a long history, dating back to the 1500s.
"History shows us that nude statues and paintings have been in places of worship for hundreds of years, the most famous and prestigious is the Sistine Chapel," he said.
Ms Day displayed the piece at the Just Nudes exhibition at the old Ipswich Courthouse this year, receiving a high commendation.
"The human form is a cause for celebration and if you want to reflect on divine creation and all that a church is, well then that nude is quite appropriately placed," she said.
Ms Day said nude artwork had an elaborate history within Ipswich.
"Look at the old courthouse over the road where the Ipswich Art Society's 'Just Nudes' is held every year. It's just nude subject matter filling a place which has had a history of law and justice."
Mr Mason said he had fielded questions regarding the name Naked Arts.
"There have been a couple of people asking about the name, and it simply means that we would like to strip the arts back to the basics," he said.