Airport took away my ‘grenade’

By Candice Krieger, November 6, 2008

A London artist was mistaken for a terrorist as he tried to take a clay "grenade" through Heathrow Airport.

It was part of a three-part piece created by David Breuer-Weil as a commission for the Art Jerusalem fair, held at the former Mandate prison in Jerusalem.

Mr Breuer-Weil, 42, was on his way to Israel with his wife and three children last month when he was stopped by security officials at Heathrow. They confiscated the artwork, which he was hoping to sell for $250,000.

He said: "I explained to security that I had a piece of art that may look a bit funny and cause alarm but they said they would have to take it away. They also said that if I had not been travelling with a ‘nice family' they would have called the police.

"One would have thought that a distinction be made between what is a work of art and what is a terrorist act." Mr Breuer-Weil said he chose the motif of the grenade, a symbol of war, transforming into an etrog, a symbol of peace, because the fair was being held in the Underground Prisoners' Museum, where Jewish fighters committed suicide by smuggling in grenades during the Mandate period.

Once in Israel, Mr Breuer-Weil had to remake the sculpture, which took him two weeks. "I was upset because thousands were coming to the show and I did not want to let them down." He is still waiting to get piece back.

A spokesperson for BAA said: "The safety and security of Heathrow is our highest priority. UK regulations place restrictions on the carriage of items which resemble an explosive device. As an airport operator we have a duty to ensure that these rules are enforced."

Last updated: 12:51pm, November 6 2008