Tube posters censored for being too “controversial”

14:56 23 April 2013

'On Earth as it is in Heaven' 2013. Picture: Ben Moore


Posters displaying Margaret Thatcher in strange and apparently sarcastic contexts have been rejected by Tube advertisers because they are too controversial.

'Shattered' 2013. Picture: Carne Griffiths'Shattered' 2013. Picture: Carne Griffiths

The pictures, created by artists for public art organisation Art Below, were due to be displayed at Westminster Underground station, but failed to meet the conditions of Transport for London’s advertising policy.

Some have suggested this amounts to a ban on the posters but CBS Outdoor, who with TfL manage advertising spaces on the London Underground, insisted the images simply were not approved.

A spokeswoman said that, in particular, the prints contravened section K of the required standards, outlined in TfL’s advertising policy, which states submissions will not be approved if: “The advertisement contains images or messages which relate to matters of public controversy and sensitivity.”

She added if Art Below resubmitted the posters “without the controversial elements, then the copy approval team would reconsider them”.

'Irony' 1990. Picture: Paul Tecklenberg'Irony' 1990. Picture: Paul Tecklenberg

TfL said the decision was taken by CBS Outdoor in the light of Margaret Thatcher’s recent funeral.

A spokeswoman said: “Our advertising contractor, CBS Outdoor, took the view that it could have been considered insensitive to have displayed the posters at the time of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral.

“As her funeral has passed, they will be happy to consider them again.”

Ben Moore, director of Art Below, said he would resubmit the artwork and defended seeking to exhibit it at Westminster Tube station so soon after the former prime minister’s death.

'Maggie Regina' 1983. Picture: Peter Kennard'Maggie Regina' 1983. Picture: Peter Kennard

He said: “I’m not trying to make a political statement about her death…it would have been the same if Princess Diana had died. She’s not a political person but an iconic figure.”

“It’s an artist’s way of marking the death of a very profound and powerful person. I don’t have a political agenda.”

But he also said he had no ill-feelings towards TfL, with whom Art Below often collaborate to exhibit artists’ work on the Underground.

“I’m very appreciative of what they provide,” he said.

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