Queen guitarist in u-turn over ‘disrespectful’ artwork

Just Regional
Aug 8, 2013 4 mins read

Aylsham artist Mik Richardson today said he was upset and disappointed after Queen guitarist Brian May slated his Freddie  gorilla in an apparent U-turn of opinion.

The musician had orginally supported the campaign to keep Freddie in the GoGoGorillas! trail after organisers were contacted by the Freddie Mercury Estate, who objected to its facial features.

The artist spent 20 hours redoing the face to resemble that of a real-life gorilla and the new artwork was unveiled yesterday.

Now Brian has attacked the original artwork on his website in Bri’s Soapbox. He states: “When word of this got to Freddie’s estate, they asked for an approach to be made to Wild in Art, to ask them if they’d have another go at the painting of the Freddie Gorilla. The way it was reported, it looked as if the MPT (Mercury Phoenix Trust) had ‘blocked’ the deployment of the statue altogether, but actually the issue had nothing to do with the MPT; plus it wasn’t a block at all – simply a request for an update to the paint job, to which Wild in Art kindly agreed.”

He said there were “accusations of ‘pettiness’ in the media and on Twitter, adding: “You have to ask yourself how you’d feel if suddenly people were making effigies of your dearly departed dad or son or brother, and you felt they were disrespectful. You’d want to feel you had some kind of a right to say yes or no, to protect his reputation.

“That’s exactly what the people who run Freddie’s estate do. They try to safeguard Freddie’s reputation, just as if he were still around. They will pursue anyone who tells a lie about him, or does something which could impugn Freddie’s integrity or image. So Freddie’s estate were quite within their rights to ask that this ‘portrait’ be improved.”.

He also  implied organisers had staged the controversy to increase publicity. “The normal way to approach this, of course, would have been for the event organisers to phone up Freddie’s estate and ask their permission, and give them approval of the artwork. Then there would have been no argument – no ‘sensation’. But then, of course, the massive controversy around this inflated story wouldn’t have happened. I’m sure this storm in a teacup has made the whole project a hundred times more visible in the media than it otherwise would have been. Now there’s a thought.”

At the outset Mik said he was “quite shocked and disappointed” that his creation has caused such a negative stir. And it has upset him that Brian May decided to slate his work on his blog.

“He seems to have done a 180 degree turn and I was really upset by his comments as I am a massive Queen fan. Freddie is a legend and the last thin I would ever want is for people to think I was being disrespectful.”

He added: “I found it hard to believe that another charity (MPT) wanted to take action against the Break charity over a piece of artwork that is there purely to put a smile on peoples’ faces and raise awareness for a good cause.”

His faith was restored by the support from the public, including at the time Brian May. “I am amazed at how much support there has been. I can’t believe it went global instantly. Freddie Mercury is still such a huge icon in the music world and is still loved by his fans, I think this surely shows. I also believe the public were shocked that it was all in connection to a charity tiff over a fun piece of art.”

and here he is after his revamp by Mik

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