A bar accused of using sexist and racist wallpaper has defended its decor, saying it is pleased to have sparked debate and "people must realise history can't be airbrushed".
The Moo Bar, in Leamington, Warwickshire, was petitioned by Warwick University students to remove its wallpaper, which featured adverts for prostitutes, "young black slave girls" and a "busty Asian schoolgirl".
A sample of the wallpaper in the newly decorated Moo Bar. Scroll down for more pictures of the wallpaper
Moo Bar released a statement on Tuesday which said the wallpaper was intended to be "provocative", adding the nature of art and history was to be divisive and controversial.
The bar has since removed one image, believed to be the one pictured above.
Warwick's anti sexism society (WASS), which launched the campaign against Moo Bar, described the images as "disgusting".
The petition, hosted on Change.org, states: "The establishment Moo has recently re-decorated and part of the new decor includes wallpaper in one area of the bar which depicts images of women and fake adverts for prostitution.
"The images sexualise school girls, slavery and violence using text such as “Busty Indian schoolgirl”, and “Black runaway slave girl aged 18 yrs seeks plantation master.”
"Warwick Anti-Sexism Society is extremely worried about the exposure of these images to students and residents of Leamington Spa."
In response to Moo Bar's statement, which accuses the petition of being misleading, WASS hit back saying the use of the images demonstrated an "inherent" sexism.
"All of the images caused concern. We do not think covering up one image is acceptable given the response and support our campaign has received. The overwhelming response is one of disgust and of the view that the images are sexist. The owners wanted to garner a response – they have almost 3,000 people telling them what they think.
"It is clear that people are not only concerned about the single image, but about the sexism inherent in appropriating these images for use in a bar.
"The images are not treated with respect or dignity or as historical pieces. They are not being viewed as artefacts of historical sexism or racism, nor is their display in any way empowering for women attending the bar."
The bar was recently re-decorated by owner Steve Smith, who also runs the Smack nightclub and Duke Terrace pub.
Ben Sundell, welfare officer at Warwick University's student union, told HuffPost UK: "Moo Bar is an independent venue with no connection to Warwick Students’ Union. We do, however, support the content of the petition and share students’ concerns about this issue."
The bar's statement read:
"The police visited the bar last week and were happy that the interior was not breaking any laws. While the intention was to be provocative, we refute any suggestion that they are fabricated, sexist, racist or violent.
"We are pleased that the artwork has opened a debate about the issues it addresses, and whilst certainly challenging, people must realise that history can’t be airbrushed.
"In response to the flawed and misleading petition from the Warwick Anti Sexism Society (WASS) we can only say sorry if we’ve upset anyone, but the very nature of art through history has often been divisive and controversial.
"We can confirm that we have removed one of the images - from more than 25,000 present - that has caused most concern."
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