Tate Website Reinstates Images of Work by Convicted Child Abuser Graham Ovenden

Graham Ovenden, Birnham Wood (1972) Image via the Tate

The Tate has made the decision to reinstate images of three abstract landscapes in their permanent collection by convicted child abuser Graham Ovenden on their website. All works by the British artist were removed from the website in 2013, when he was found guilty of indecency and indecent assault against two children that had modeled for him.

The Art Newspaper reports that the portraits of young girls, 31 of which are in the museum’s collection, will not be reinstated in the online catalogue. While the images of the works are to remain unavailable, titles, dates, and other details are still available to the public.

The decision was made after the 2013 conviction, largely due to the fact that the charges against Ovenden happened between 1972–1985, and the works in the Tate collection date from 1970–1975. They all depict young girls some of whom are fully clothed others in explicitly erotic scenarios. Because there is no way to determine if the models in any of these specific images had suffered abuse, the Tate chose to remove them all. It is currently only possible to view the works by appointment.

A spokesperson for the museum explained: “[The] Tate reviewed information relating to the conviction of Graham Ovenden. The review sought to clarify whether there is a direct connection between the works by Ovenden held in the national collection and the crimes of which he has been convicted. It subsequently became clear that it would not be possible to establish whether such a connection exists and the works therefore remain unavailable to view online. The works can be viewed in the prints and drawings room at Tate Britain by application.”

Similarly, the Victoria and Albert Museum, which owns 14 Ovenden works in their permanent collection, made the decision to remove over half of the images from their website following the artist’s conviction.


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