Award-winning photo angers monarchists

Source: Illawarra Mercury

An award winning photograph of a man tasting wine underneath a portrait of a young Queen Elizabeth has offended the sensibilities of monarchists.

The photograph of wine judge Peter Dredge spitting out shiraz under a picture of Her Majesty was taken by Adelaide food photographer Grant Nowell and won the Wollongong City Gallery Friends Photographic Portrait Prize in the NSW Illawarra on Friday night.

Shellharbour councillor and staunch monarchist Kellie Marsh called the picture ‘‘gutter trash’’.

‘‘I find it total distasteful and the photograph certainly doesn’t do any justice to Wollongong City Gallery or to the arts in general,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s all well and good to say this man is just spitting out wine, but the Queen is our sovereign and head of state and a little bit of moral fibre and respect would go a long way.

‘‘I feel the photographer is using the controversy surrounding the republican debate and being opportunistic.’’

Cr Marsh’s views echoed a number of comments on the Illawarra Mercury website, which said the photo was tasteless and disrespectful.

Australian Monarchists League chairman Philip Benwell said wine judges should know better than to taste wine – and spit it out – near photos of the Queen, especially when there were cameras nearby.

‘‘If it’s not to denigrate the monarchy why is he doing it ... why isn’t he doing it under a photograph of bottles of wine?’’ Mr Benwell said.

He said the picture should have been disqualified.

‘‘It’s not appropriate, particularly during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year, for the paper to print that type of thing or for the judges to accept that type of thing as real art,’’ he said.

Mr Nowell denied he was courting controversy, saying he had simply snapped away at a wine competition in the Adelaide Hills.

‘‘The judging was done in an old hall and there were portraits on all the walls of all sorts of people, including the beautiful portrait of the Queen,’’ he said.

‘‘It was an eye-catching image and I would have been absolutely insane not to take it – that’s my job.’’

Mr Nowell said he was happy to see people debating art because of his photo.

‘‘The more we engage with our community through debate, controversy and conversation the better – if all of us were the same and saw things the same it would be a pretty boring place,’’ he said.

A former newspaper photographer who has photographed the Queen and royal family in the past, Mr Nowell said he hoped Her Majesty would ‘‘have a chuckle’’ at his picture.

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