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Star Wars stormtrooper in crucifix sculpture ‘blasphemy’ row in Gidea Park

Gallery owner Mark Belda and artist Ryan Callanan with the Stormtroopers Gallery owner Mark Belda and artist Ryan Callanan with the Stormtroopers

Thursday, August 21, 2014
4:00 PM

Stormtroopers usually need no defending when under the command of Star Wars villain Darth Vader.

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But an artist has fended off criticism of his “blasphemous” sculpture depicting one of the Galactic Empire soldiers being crucified, which is displayed in the window of a Gidea Park gallery.

Devout Christian Sarah Jenkin reported The Picture Frame Gallery, Main Road, Gidea Park, to Trading Standards for the artwork made by Collier Row artist Ryan Callanan.

“It’s extremely blasphemous and offensive,” said Mrs Jenkin, 48, of Gidea Park. “Some people may find it funny but, as a Christian, I don’t.

“It’s time Christians stand up and say ‘no we are not putting up with this’. I’m not going to throw a brick through the window but I will speak up.”

Mr Callanan, whose artwork has been bought by the likes of Fatboy Slim and Russell Brand, said: “It’s not making fun of any particular religion and certainly not Christianity.”

The piece of work represents the sacrifice of the movie stormtroopers as “cannon fodder” for someone else’s cause, said Mr Callanan, who is also known as RYCA.

The avid Star Wars fan said that he isn’t offended by Mrs Jenkin’s criticism. “If it was [Star Wars film-maker] George Lucas having a go at me I would be more upset,” he said.

Gallery owner Mark Belda, who says he was raised as a Catholic, also defended the sculpture, which is priced at more than £300 and titled The Long Suffering Stormtrooper.

“I’ve got three customers who are priests and they all like it. I totally take on board what she’s saying, but it’s not got anything to do with religion,” said Mr Belder.

The gallery is opposite St Michael and All Angels Church but vicar Phil Weston did not want to comment.

Mrs Jenkin is awaiting a reply from Trading Standards.

Read more:

Romford pictures: Star Wars fans bring the force to Harold Hill

Star Wars convention day

Gidea Park artist exploring his relationship with God in new exhibition

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