THE ART NEWSPAPER | By Gareth Harris

Tate director Maria Balshaw has apologised on Instagram for comments she made in an interview with the Times newspaper on the issue of sexual harassment. In a piece published on 3 February, Balshaw discusses allegations about harassment and abuse in the art world, telling the interviewer, Rachel Campbell-Johnston: “But I personally have never suffered any such issues. Then, I wouldn’t. I was raised to be a confident women who, when I encountered harassment, would say, ‘Please don’t’… or something rather more direct.”

Balshaw describes her time working as a waitress in the 1980s. “Then, when men had got a bit drunk, they thought it entirely appropriate to put their hand up your skirt,” she said. She would respond by, for instance, tipping a tray full of drinks over them. The organisation known as We Are Not Surprised (WANS), which released an open letter in October condemning sexual harassment in the art world, posted yesterday (8 February) on Instagram that it was “outraged” by Balshaw’s quote, adding: “Blame the perpetrator, not the victim. Hold a culture of abuse and the people who shape it accountable.” The post drew a flood of comments…read more

Image: Maria Balshaw By Johnnie Shand Kydd