Art gallery bosses in Leeds have rejected the chance to host an exhibition based on the Spanish Civil War in which 12 men from the city died fighting for the International Brigade.
And now Leeds North East Labour MP Fabian Hamilton is urging Leeds City art gallery to reconsider its decision.
The exhibition – British Artists and the Spanish Civil War: Conscience and Conflict – is the brainchild of Jeffrey Sherwin, an honorary alderman of Leeds and art collector who owns works associated with the period.
It is to be mounted by Chichester’s Pallant House Gallery next year and will feature works from the Sherwin Collection. The gallery also intends to borrow from other private and public collections, including the Tate and Imperial War Museum.
But when Pallant House offered the exhibition to Leeds for 2014, the city’s museums and galleries exhibition panel turned it down.
A plaque dedicated to the 12 men who died in the 1930s conflict between Franco’s Nationalists and the Republicans can be seen in Leeds Town Hall. Picasso’s iconic anti-war painting “Guernica” – a protest against the bombing of civilians in the Basque town – was shown in Leeds in 1937. Co-op stores raised money to send food to Republican Spain.
Mr Hamilton said: “I would have thought there would be massive interest in this exhibition and given the city’s connections to it, I am very surprised the art gallery turned it down.
“I would urge it to think again.”
Dr Sherwin accepted the gallery had every right to reject the exhibition but argued it should explain why.”
A council spokesman said: “Leeds Art Gallery receives more than 100 exhibition proposals from artists, collectors and other galleries each year. Each one is assessed on its merits. The proposal from Pallant House was considered by Leeds museums and galleries exhibition panel in September, and in this case the panel reached the conclusion after careful deliberation not to proceed.”