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Artists shun exhibition amid Whitworth row over Palestine statement

Group say they are appalled by university’s attempt to force out gallery director.

A group of artists are pulling their work from the Manchester leg of a prestigious touring art exhibition after the director of the Whitworth art gallery was asked to leave his post following a row over the removal of a statement of solidarity with Palestine’s “liberation struggle”.

The 23 artists – including the Turner prize winners Helen Cammock, Tai Shani and Oscar Murillo – were among 48 due to feature in the British Art Show 9 when it arrives in venues across Manchester, including the Whitworth, in May.

But on Saturday they said they were “outraged and appalled” by the university’s attempt to force Alistair Hudson to resign and would not be participating in the Manchester segment of the exhibition – organised every five years by London’s Hayward Gallery – in support of Hudson, Palestinians, political freedom and artistic expression.

The Guardian reported on Tuesday that Hudson had been asked to leave his post by the university after a series of complaints by UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI). Sources said the university explicitly cited his response to the fallout from an exhibition that denounced Israel’s military operations in Gaza and its “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians. UKLFI told the Guardian it had “suggested that the university should take appropriate disciplinary action” against Hudson.


In a letter to Nancy Rothwell, the president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester, the 23 artists condemned the university’s response, saying it was a “direct attack on political freedom and artistic expression”.