AN ARTIST has risked incurring the wrath of Great Harwood women with a controversial caricature of life in the town.

Edward Foster’s The Three Gossips offers a scathing modern-day take on the three handmaidens of Venus, represented in early Renaissance painter Botticelli’s sensuous painting Primevera.

It depicts three women – one a buxom, micro-skirted young mum with pram, another an emaciated greasy-haired character and a third with a prodigious bottom.

Apparently deep in conversation, all three are smoking over a distressed baby.

Edward, 34, of Lowerfold, said Botticelli’s classic painting had been "humorously transformed and transported into a Northern mill town setting".

He added: "Gone are the beautiful sensuous lips as graceful in their curves as the flowing silk of their garments.

"These are now replaced by cigarettes and furrowed brows, gossiping tongues of spite and unflattering outfits.’’

Edward insists the oil painting, which took him a week to create, reflects the northern ability to laugh at oneself, but not everyone is amused.

Anthea Kendal, who works at The Cake Shop, thinks it makes Great Harwood look "common".

She said: "I was born and bred in Great Harwood and I find it a bit demeaning. It looks like we’re interbred."

One of her customers admitted she found the picture funny but added: "I don’t like the smoking over the baby. They’re not good lookers are they? You get distracted by the boobs."

Nichola Waring, of the Zebraz hair salon, said: "There’s a lot of truth to it, especially the baby and the women gossiping and smoking. We get a lot of gossip in here and it’s quite amusing. However, it’s not fair to all Great Harwood women."

Great Harwood councillor Lynn Wilson, Cabinet member for art, defended the picture as "quirky" but wouldn’t want to put it on her wall.

She said: "It is very entertaining and if that’s how he sees Great Harwood that’s how he sees it. Perhaps he doesn’t get out enough though because on Friday nights there are some very pretty ladies out in Great Harwood."

To view more of Edward’s artwork visit

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