Scientology Sect 'Using British Art as a Front'

Article excerpt

THE Church of Scientology was accused today of using British artists as a front for recruiting members.

The Stuckist movement, which rails against conceptual art, is in turmoil over claims that sales of its artists' paintings are effectively funding Scientology, a religious sect accused of brainwashing its followers.

The row has led to disquiet among artists as far afield as Germany.

Charles Thomson, who founded the Stuckist movement in Britain, admitted to the Evening Standard he was wrong to give the go-ahead to a Stuckist exhibition at a London art gallery run by a practising Scientologist.

He is among several Stuckists showing their work at the A Gallery in Wimbledon, whose proprietor is 28-year-old Fraser Kee Scott.

Mr Thomson accused Mr Kee Scott of using the exhibition to promote Scientology, which was created by the American science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard and counts Tom Cruise and John Travolta among its supporters.

He said that in at least one publicity interview the gallery owner was supposed to promote the show, but he talked about Scientology instead.

"It is outrageous he is promoting an art show but talking about Scientology," said Mr Thomson.

"I feel we have been tricked. We said we want nothing to do with Scientology but we are now being associated with it.

"It puts us in a very difficult position because we were promised the gallery is run as a commercial venture but he can't seem to stop talking about Scientology. He is a nice guy and is genuine but it is pissing us off." Another exhibitor, Paul Harvey, was angry that one of his paintings could be seen in a photograph of Mr Kee Scott thataccompanied an interview in which he talked about the church.

"I feel my work was being used without my permission to promote Scientology," he said.

Peter Klint, a leading German Stuckist, said it was "very dangerous" for artists to co-operate with Mr Kee Scott.

"Money earned through art sales at A Gallery goes, more or less directly, to Scientology. That's why I'd never show my paintings there and why I don't want my name to be put in any relation to Mr Kee Scott and the A Gallery.

"Mr Kee Scott is very active in fishing for new Scientologists. …