Should henson be allowed to scout in Schools?

Another of the Nude Teen Pictures under debate by Bill Henson
Another of the Nude Teen Pictures under debate by Bill Henson.
Picture by the Daily Telegraph

The recent interview and book about Bill Henson and the controversy in May has brought to light how Henson goes about searching for his models and has, in turn, caused it’s own furor of media activity. It appears that the powers that be are not content to have lost their favorite whipping boy and have dredged up all new ways to try to make Henson and his work shady and inappropriate.

the book, by Journalist David Marr, takes an in depth look at Bill Henson and some of his practices. I believe the interview in which Henson details how he chooses a model was designed to set people’s minds at ease, to show that it’s not arbitrary or sexual but a careful process involving the parents at every level. Unfortunately one of his methods has set off a whole new range of debates.

Henson was having trouble finding the models he needed for the Sydney exhibition due to open in May this year. Friends introduced him to the principal of a Melbourne primary school. This wasn’t the first time the photographer had been invited into schools in his search for models.

[From No misgivings about those photos, says Henson – Arts – Entertainment]

The media has been having a field day, asserting that Henson scoured the schools implying that no child is safe from the unsupervised depridations of deranged artists.

Australian Primary Principals Association president Leonie Trimper said it made no difference that the school principal accompanied Mr Henson, it was still wrong.

“It doesn’t matter which way you look at it, I think it’s still inappropriate,” she told AAP.
“Primary schools are not there to be a ready commercial market for individuals.
“I am not aware that parents knew this was going to happen, whether staff knew.”

Ms Trimper said the issue was a timely reminder about schools’ responsibilities to students and their families.

“I guess someone should sit down with the principal and have a talk about the protocols in their school and if it needs to be taken further, if there needs to be counselling for the principal, then I think that should occur.”

Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan said it was the ultimate betrayal of parents’ trust and someone ought to be sacked.

Mr Marr said Mr Henson was accompanied by the school principal at all times and he did not tell the children he wanted them to model for him or take any photographs.
“The only contact with the photographer was if the parents of the children wished to talk to him,” he told Sky News.
“The impression has been put about by Senator Heffernan and by others that he kind of roamed, roamed the playground unsupervised, perhaps interviewing children, perhaps photographing children.
“That is not the case. The impression that he is sort of loose in the playground is actually factually wrong.”

Mr Henson told Mr Marr he mostly found his subjects through friends or friends of friends.

[From Henson ‘scouted school for child models’ – Breaking News – National – Breaking News]

The public outcry is what about privacy? what about our kids and their right to be kids? Now, I remember going to school and having talent scouts, model scouts and so on parading through, talking to the kids. it was highly competitive, a meat market if you will. I know that studios and actors still scout schools for likely children with differing levels of interaction with the kids. Henson, had no contact with the children. he was never unsupervised and never spoke to the parents directly. he pointed out the two children he was interested in photographing, the principal contacted the parents and the decision was left up to them- one family said yes and one said no. The boy who was photographed in the end was not photographed nude. there is a call for the principal to be sacked, for laws to toughen, but I don’t see that what he did was particularly wrong and definitely not illegal. what do you think?

5 thoughts on “Should henson be allowed to scout in Schools?

  1. As a parent I think what he did was wrong. If he wants people to photograph then he should be doing it through an agency. It is too easy for parents and children to be manipulated this way due to their inexperience. I would expect many parents would agree to it simply because they are flattered and possibly blinded by the artists fame.

    I don’t know that the principle should be sacked for what she did, but I do think parents aught to have been consulted beforehand.

    I don’t know if you consider my opinion valid. Whether you want an opinion of a ‘parent’ or a fellow artist I guess it is up to you. If you’re only wanting artists then please delete this as I have no interest in arguing about my views, only providing them where asked. You are a dear friend and as such I read your blog. I am commenting only because you asked.

    I remember you telling me a few years ago to take a photo of my naked one year old off of my blog as paediphiles would find it and use it for some foul purpose. The picture is not sexual at all (of course!) but you can see his bare bottom. I was initially shocked as I looked at my son as the most beautiful thing in the world (and I still do) but after some thought I realised that you were right. In an ideal world the naked form is a thing of beauty and we shouldn’t be afraid of showing it. Unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world and as such I have the responsibility of protecting my child. From himself if need be.

    I have to say I don’t like Bill Hensen. I don’t like his images of children and if he had approached my child at all I would have told him ‘Heellll no!’

  2. At the school up the street, where our kids went until 12 years old, if a man should stop on the sidewalk and watch the playground for too long the police are called. Imagine what would happen if he went to the principle and said he wanted to scout kids to take nude pictures of! “No, honestly; it’s ART!”

    Tell it to the Judge. -Steve

  3. The good thing about being friends is that we are always welcome to express opinions! I wouldn’t have asked if i didn’t want it and this wouldn’t be a controversial topic if we all agreed! 😀 different opinions make the world go around. and art isn’t really art if everyone loves it. I think the important thing is that the parents were all in the position of saying “hell no” if they wanted to with no pressure. unfortunately the media is making it out to be something much more sleazy than it really was. good ol media!

  4. Yes but not all parents are responsible and make the right choices. Who is protecting the child from dumb parents? The media is involved because the lines around this topic are blurred and need to be explored.

  5. sadly there are always going to be irresponsible parents. the media is involved because it sniffs an opportunity for outrage and is exploiting that. which is what the media is about really! 😀 but you are right it is a burry line here.

    there are always going to be good parents and bad parents, parents who take good care of their kids and love them and parents who abuse their kids and do unspeakable things. just like there are always going to be responsible people looking for the next child star or inspiration and there will be people looking for children to exploit. we live in a horrible world sometimes. I do believe however that Henson behaved better at those schools and respected the privacy of the kids much more than the scouts and agents that I have seen trolling schools for meat.

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