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An empty display cabinet in Haworth Gallery... but is it art?

Controversial artist Albert Biggar is back at the Haworth Art Gallery with his latest work – which challenges visitors to question ‘when is a work of art not a work of art?’

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CONTROVERSIAL: Albert Biggar with the empty cabinet.

Art gallery bosses have provoked controversy after an empty display cabinet was unveiled as the focal point of its latest exhibition.

Controversial artist Albert Biggar is back at the Haworth Art Gallery with his latest work – which challenges visitors to question ‘when is a work of art not a work of art?’

The retired carpet fitter based his entry to this year’s Annual Open on ‘ontology’ - the study of reality and existence.

Albert, 62, who has had works exhibited in galleries from Haslingden to Australia, said his entry to the exhibition takes art into the ‘fourth dimension’.

The Accrington-based artist said: “Even though nothing is there in the concrete sense it exists in the abstract sense as an idea or a germination.

“I filled in my entry form and paid my money to put it in, so in the loosest possible sense it does exist.

“I would rather people investigate than fixate.

“I don’t want them just looking at a painting.”

The artist has previously sparked controversy and criticism from some visitors to the gallery after exhibiting a laundry basket filled with empty bottles and cans and an ironing board with a copy of the book 50 Shades of Grey.

Albert added: “It’s perfectly normal if people don’t get it straight away.”

However, Accrington artist Peter Sherburne, who presented the Queen with a portrait during her visit last year, called the entry ‘insane’.

He said: “It’s not art. I would say it’s insanity myself.

“Other artists who  have worked hard on something aren't getting noticed.”

Yvonne Robins, gallery co-ordinator, welcomed the entry and praised the high quality of work at this year’s Annual Open.

She said: “It’s a really great thing as it gets people thinking and gets more people visiting the gallery.

“It gives visitors the opportunity to question what they see and are they really seeing what they think they are seeing.”