AN ART installation mimicking people suffocating on a Dorset beach is set to go ahead despite outrage and calls to cancel.

A London-based artist announced she would be debuting her artwork of people trapped in nets on the beach this weekend, less than a week before the anniversary of when two children drowned off Bournemouth Beach.

The installation aims to showcase humans suffocating in nets to highlight the “unfathomable deaths” of fish.

However, the event has received backlash for being ‘disrespectful’ following the deaths of 12-year-old Sunnah Khan and 17-year-old Joe Abbess on Bournemouth beach last year.

Dorset Echo:

On May 31, 2023, Sunnah and Joe got into difficulty while swimming near Bournemouth Pier and tragically died.

However, artist Stephanie Lane intends to go ahead with the installation saying it is “hypocritical” to be outraged by an event about humans but disregard the lives of fish that “die in a similar way.”

In a statement to the Daily Mail, Ms Lane said: “It is hypocritical and speciesist to be outraged by the sensitivity regarding an event that happened to humans, yet completely disregard the lives of those dying in a similar manner on a daily basis.”

Following BCP Council’s refusal for the installation, Ms Lane has redefined the event as a “protest.”

Amanda Barrie, BCP Council director of commercial operations, said: “We have been clear to the artist that we will not give permission for their installation on Bournemouth beach this weekend, out of respect for the families as we approach the anniversary of last year’s tragic events.

“Disappointingly, the artist’s only reply to us suggests they intend to proceed and have subsequently defined their proposal as ‘a small form of protest art in a public space’.

“Whilst we respect anyone’s right to protest, we are seeking another urgent conversation with the artist as soon as possible and will reiterate that their intentions this weekend are highly inappropriate and insensitive in their current form.

“At the moment, the artist is ignoring all attempts by us to contact them.”

Sir Conor Burns, Bournemouth West MP, said: “The tragic events last summer were a cause of great sadness locally and unimaginable grief to the families of the young people who perished.

“The artist should respect their memory and this anniversary.

“To describe it as a protest is as insensitive as it is pompous. If the artist won’t work the council to find a compromise there should be no hesitation in removing it as soon as it is erected.”

Tom Hayes, Labour parliamentary candidate for Bournemouth East, said: “My thoughts are with the families and friends of Joes Abbess and Sunnah Khan as we near the first anniversary of their tragic drowning.

“I urge this artist to rethink their installation – it’s inappropriate, badly located, and will cause suffering to grieving families on this important anniversary.

“The beach belongs to everyone and the artist should consider the wishes of local people.”

The art installation is set to take place at 1pm on Bournemouth beach on Sunday, May 26.