Artist’s Graffiti Mural Sparks Suicide Scare

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Laura Keeble and Mark Grist's installation in situ.
Photo: Laura Keeble/Twitter.
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Laura Keeble and Mark Grist’s installation in situ.
Photo: Laura Keeble/Twitter.

A sculptural mural intervention by British artist Laura Keeble and poet Mark Grist on a billboard in Cambridgeshire elicited an unexpected visit from police and paramedics after someone mistook a suspended dummy for a hanging body, the BBC reports.

“I am obviously concerned that someone was worried enough to call the services,” Keeble told BBC, “although if they had gone to see if the ‘person’ was OK they would have very clearly seen the sculpture was made from expanding foam, sellotape, plaster, and spray paint.”

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Laura Keeble and Mark Grist’s installation in situ.
Photo: Laura Keeble/Twitter.

The piece, part of an outdoor exhibition of 10 artist-designed billboards around Cambridgeshire, featured the text “What’s an artist worth?” and “Artist vs Edukator & Poet” crudely spray-painted on a faux brick backdrop. At the lower right hand corner of the billboard, Keeble affixed a life-size dummy of a person wielding a can of spray paint seemingly in the act of tagging the mural.

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Laura Keeble’s dummy, pre-installation.
Photo: Laura Keeble/Twitter.

But the dummy’s verisimilitude proved to be its demise, and within hours of the piece being installed on the evening of August 30, officers from Cambridgeshire Police and an East of England ambulance were on the scene. According to a police spokesperson, they responded to a call alerting them to “a body hanging from a structure.”

A camera Keeble had installed across the street captured the emergency de-installation. Though she was surprised by the authorities’ response, she also found some humor in the fact that her graffiti dummy was spirited away in an ambulance.


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