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Council to remove 'offensive' graffiti

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: October 11, 2012

Exe Bridges
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PARTS of newly-painted graffiti artwork are having to be removed from Exe Bridges.

The work was commissioned by Devon County Council and proved controversial with some residents complaining about the image of a man smoking – a representation of actor Johnny Depp from the film Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas.

But the county council decided to act following a complaint from Rob Hannaford, city and county councillor for St Thomas, about a different image in the artwork which allegedly portrayed a "man forcing himself on a woman".

The word "rape' had been daubed next to it.

Cllr Hannaford had received complaints about the artwork and asked the council to act to remove the offensive images.

He said: "There have been complaints about the artwork and I have asked the council to remove that particular section.

"It shows a man forcing himself on a woman. It should be removed."

Highways officers were sent to Exe Bridges to remove the word and returned the next day to blank out the image of the man and the woman.

The county council has also decided to replace the image of Hunter S Thompson's Fear and Loathing character Raoul Duke with something else, and this is due to be done in the next few weeks.

The county council's response has pleased Echo reader Mark Williamson who had been critical.

Mr Williamson said: "I'm pleased the images causing concern are to be removed.

"I have nothing against the art and brightening up the grey pillars. It was purely the subject matter of drug abuse I found disturbing."

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon's cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: "The idea behind the project at Exe Bridges, similar to another subway crossing in Alphington near West Exe School, is to help address the chronic problem of highly offensive graffiti vandalism in that area and to reduce the amount the county council spends trying to remove it.

"As with most art, there is always going to be varying opinions, and we have received many comments, mostly favourable.

"In fact, a recent comment stated that 'it brightens the area and helps people feel like they have a stake in a community which respects the area in which they live'.

"However, after much consideration, we have decided to remove the male/female image and arrangements are being made to alter the Fear and Loathing montage on the bridge abutment.

"We hope the remaining artwork will remain graffiti free and residents and passers-by will continue to enjoy it."

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