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Old 04-04-2013, 02:32 PM   #60722
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http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/ap...dyll-dark-side


Graham Ovenden lived in rambling rural idyll with a dark side

Artist portrayed Cornwall home as Eden where children could live as nature intended, but abuse of girls has now emerged




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Graham Ovenden lived in rambling rural idyll with a dark side

Artist portrayed Cornwall home as Eden where children could live as nature intended, but abuse of girls has now emerged

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Steven Morris
Steven Morris
The Guardian, Tuesday 2 April 2013 15.32 EDT

Graham Ovenden
Graham Ovenden, 70, an artist who became famous for his studies of young girls. Photograph: Ryan Hooper/PA

Barley Splatt, Graham Ovenden's estate on the edge of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, was an extraordinary place to be in the 1970s and 80s. The house was eccentric: a neo-gothic creation built out of Cornish granite complete with turrets and slit windows; the 22 acres of grounds – featuring lovely beech woods and a tumbling stream – were stunning. Ovenden and his wife, Annie, entertained artists, writers and musicians.

Children were encouraged to run free – and naked, in warm weather. They were also asked to pose for Ovenden: sometimes clothed, sometimes in the Victorian outfits the artist kept in dressing-up boxes, but often nude.When he gave evidence at Truro crown court, Ovenden portrayed the house as a new Eden – a place where children could live as nature intended, unbound by the constraints of a modern world suspicious of nakedness in children. But, it has become clear, there was a darker side to Barley Splatt.

Ovenden was accused by four former girl models, now adults, of abusing them between 1972 and 1985. They told how he would blindfold them and force them to take part in a "tasting game" that ended up in tricking them into taking part in oral abuse. On Tuesday, Ovenden was convicted of six charges of indecency with a child, and one of indecent assault. He was acquitted of five charges of indecent assault, three of them on the direction of the judge.
Barley Splatt, to where Ovenden and Annie, also a talented artist, moved in the early 70s from west London with their two children, became a meeting place for the Brotherhood of Ruralists, a movement founded by the Ovendens, Blake...

he became famous – and then notorious – for were his studies of girls. He created a series based on Nabokov's character Lolita, and had worked with Blake on a project around Lewis Carroll's Alice books. He was successful; his work can still be seen on Tate Online and has hung in some of the most famous galleries in Europe, the US, the far east and South America.

Ovenden argued in court that he had a "moral obligation" to show children in what he called a "state of grace". The idea of pictures of naked children being obscene was "abhorrent".

Ovenden's daughter, Emily, a singer, told the Guardian then that her earliest memories were of being photographed by her father. "We were always an open household and as young children would often run round naked


...jury members visibly recoiled when they were shown two explicit images of child sexual abuse that were found by police on Ovenden's computer. He accepted he had created the images – composites of pictures from pornographic magazines and his own drawings – and said they were made for a project called Through a Glass Darkly that dealt with the corruption of the "state of grace".

Ovenden said he found the images "utterly vile", but they were the product not of a deviant mind but one seeking to confront evil in a "clear-eyed" way.
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