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About the Work

In 1970 'The Camden Festival' was organised, and ideas were invited for an exhibition of work in Euston Square, outside the railway terminus. I anticipated that most of the work shown would be modernist formalism, which rail travellers would walk straight past. So I chose a subject which most people would be familiar with - Hans Christian Andersen's most famous story. This would be particularly appropriate as the sculpture would make comment on the rest of the modern art surrounding it. Therefore I decided to make it larger than any of the other exhibitor's works, standing out unabashedly.
The design of the sculpture was hung around the emperor's appendage which when viewed from one side appeared as a figleaf, the other side, as a penis. On the figleaf side was scribbled the instruction 'see overleaf'. The sculpture consisted of four emperors presented in strip cartoon form. The first three were identical. On the fourth emperor I wrote: '"But the emperor has nothing on at all!" said a little child'. This emperor looked suitably astonished.
A UNESCO violinist took exception to 'The Emperor's New Clothes' and vandalised it, tearing great chunks out and ripping off the appendages with his bare hands. The press coverage received as a result of this vandalism provoked me into thinking of incorporating the media into future work.

″I still use the same approach to my work: I get an idea, think of the title and then make the work. So not much has changed since 1964″

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