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An ironing board and 50 Shades of Grey

A controversial artist is back at Haworth art gallery with a second collection of works – this time inspired by his wife’s ironing

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Albert Biggar

An artist who caused controversy when artwork featuring nothing but a laundry basket filled with empty bottles and cans went on display at Haworth art gallery is back with a new exhibition.

One of Albert Biggar’s latest works, called ‘40 years of Feminism’ features just an ironing board with a copy of the book Fifty Shades of Grey left on it. 

The artist received strong criticism from some visitors to the Haworth Art Gallery last October.

The Observer received many letters and emails on the creation including one reader who said it was ‘insulting’ and an ‘exercise in pretention’.

Mr Biggar, from Accrington, has now created 25 similar works of art which have gone on display in the gallery’s new Open Focus exhibit.

The 61-year-old said he hopes it will provoke a similar response again from visitors.

He told the Observer: “At first I was a bit upset but people are still talking about it thanks to the letters and comments in the Observer. I have even been asked for my autograph.

“It’s taken quite some time to complete the new pieces. I started in October and was working up to the day before the exhibition. I’m hoping we get a similar response as last time. It would be nice not just for me but for the gallery, as they deserve it.”

Other works of art in the new exhibition include three mops with buckets, ‘fragments and pencils’ and ‘found objects’.

Speaking of his inspiration for the new pieces, Mr Biggar said: “I was watching my wife do the ironing and reading a book on 40 years of feminism.

“I looked at her doing all the housework and was thinking nothing much has changed.

“The mops and bucket were based on a letter sent to the Observer which said she would enter something similar to the Haworth. I call this the Critic’s Choice.”

Mr Biggar said he collected most of the pieces of his artwork from everyday objects thrown away by people.

The Open Focus exhibition also features work from other artists including Bohuslav Barlow, Lizi Botham, Lyne Frost and Paul Drew.

Yvonne Robins, learning and access officer at the Haworth, warned visitors to ‘expect the unexpected’.

She added: “I think this is one of the best exhibitions I have ever seen at the Haworth and I have been here for 13 years.”

The free exhibition will run until Sunday, April 14.