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Is this shop window too gruesome to be seen by the public?

By Cate McCurry and Kirsten Elder

Published 15/10/2015

The controversial Halloween display
The controversial Halloween display
The shop on Royal Avenue
The controversial Halloween display
The controversial Halloween display

The owner of Belfast's most controversial Halloween window display has defended the artwork, saying it is a fun way to promote artistic skills.

Featuring a man and woman's mutilated, bloodied bodies with chains around their necks and blood-dripping hand prints across the window, the artwork has attracted criticism for its graphic content.

Professional make-up artist Paddy McGurgan, who owns the Make Up Pro Store in the city centre, said it took his students two months to produce the piece of "fun artwork".

However, a concerned parent who contacted the Belfast Telegraph said it was too frightening for young children to see.

He said: "I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the display; it is completely graphic and more like something you would see in a horror film. I was concerned because my young son or any other child could have seen that display and I have no doubt it would have left him frightened."

But the talented make-up artist, who is also the beauty writer in our Weekend magazine, said that Halloween gave his students the opportunity to showcase their abilities.

"There's a massive horror film industry and we are training people up who want to go out and work in that industry. With this time of year they are getting the ability to showcase what they can do and to say that it's very realistic is a compliment because we are perfecting an art form.

"You can't walk your children down the street blindfolded, you can walk past a couple who are swearing and various other things. It's not our ambition to put fear in children."

The students used body casts, sculpting, gel and silicone to create the horror scene and Mr McGurgan said that it was not a sinister message but to promote the skill used in the artwork.

"That is what Halloween is to a lot of people," he added. "They see it as fun, a lot of parents have taken their children in and had pictures taken with it."

But Belfast UUP councillor Sonia Copeland called for the display to be removed.

The councillor, who said that her three-year-old grandson would be horrified by the images, said: "It's pretty graphic and pretty horrific. It's up to me whether I would want to watch a horror movie, whereas the public have no option but to look at it.

"It shouldn't be there."

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