Hackney's swastika art attack

By Jessica Elgot, June 10, 2010
Follow Jessica on Twitter
One of the wafer swastikas

One of the wafer swastikas

A former Vogue photographer and artist has caused a stir in Hackney with plans to display his latest work - swastikas made out of Catholic communion wafers.

The artwork, by photographer Colin Hampden-White, is intended as an attack on Pope Pius XII, who did not speak out against the Holocaust.

The swastikas occupy two squares of the annual 100sqft art exhibition. The idea is that any artist can buy space on a grid of 30cm squares, to show his or her work.

The project will be launched in August at the Cholmeley Boys Club in Dalston, and this is the fourth time Mr Hampden-White has exhibited there.

He has bought the two centre squares on the grid, and has used them to display two of his communion-wafer swastikas, one black and one white, on contrasting backgrounds. They are entitled White Host and Black Host.

This is Mr Hampden-White's first abstract piece of work. As a photographer, he has shot portraits for fashion magazines and newspapers including Vogue and The Times.

He said that the pictures were not a total condemnation of the Catholic Church, and were not intended to merely shock people.

"It is a commentary on the Catholic church, and how the Pope did nothing in the face of the Holocaust. It is mirrored in what is happening today, that the church is doing nothing to confront the allegations of paedophilia.

"I am not trying to be blatantly controversial. I would never want Jewish people in Hackney to get the wrong end of the stick.

"I would always put up an explanation as to why I have used a swastika symbol. I am not a naïve young artist, and I have considered this very carefully. But I also believe that if people look closely at the work, they will be able to read the art for themselves."

    Last updated: 2:00pm, June 10 2010