|Model's mother defends Henson
||[May. 30th, 2008|10:28 am]
From The Age newspaper online today...
Farah Farouque May 30, 2008
THE mother of the 13-year-old girl at the centre of the Bill Henson controversy has broken the family's week-long silence to mount a strong defence of the artist's portrayal of her daughter.
The parents of the teenager, whose nude image adorned the Sydney exhibition invitation that sparked the original complaint to police, have known the artist for more than a decade.
The girl lives with both her parents in the family home in Melbourne.
In a statement to The Age yesterday, the mother said: "There is a police investigation under way and we cannot say anything other than (that) we are very strong supporters of Bill Henson and his work."
The mother initially declined to comment when approached by The Age, but later issued a statement through an intermediary. The girl is said to be a self-aware teenager with a keen interest in the arts. Her identity is known to police, but her family have so far refused to answer any police questions via their lawyer.
However, The Age has learnt the girl, who is still 13, posed for Henson over the past year. The parents met Henson, who also lives in Melbourne, through family and friends and were well acquainted with the nature of his work before their daughter posed nude, sources said.
The family have been anxious to protect their privacy. Their legal interests are being represented by the high-profile Sydney media lawyer Mark O'Brien. He is also advising Bill Henson and Roslyn and Tony Oxley, the husband-and-wife directors of the Paddington gallery where 20 images of disrobed children were seized last week.
Mr O'Brien declined to comment last night, but he is known for his aggressive legal strategies, and recently advised Channel Nine over the suppression of the Underbelly series in Victoria. All the parties have also retained the same public relations firm.
It also emerged yesterday that a separate probe has been launched by the Australian Federal Police into Henson's work held at the National Gallery of Australia. Police went to the gallery on Tuesday and interviewed director Ron Radford.
Media organisations that reproduced Henson's work online are also being investigated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. The NGA holds 79 pictures of Henson's work, including 42 prints, but have not displayed any since 2006.
With LEO SHANAHAN