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London cops break into gallery to rescue lifelike art installation

'Kristina' is a sculpture of a woman with her face in a bowl of soup

We doff our caps to the two London police officers who smashed down the doors of a small art gallery to rescue a woman who appeared to have collapsed and drowned in a bowl of soup.

The bobbies on the beat were following up reports that the stricken woman had not moved for hours. But that's because she is made of packing tape and foam filler.

Kristina, as the sculpture is named, was commissioned by Laz Emporium owner Steve Lazarides from American artist Mark Jenkins and is supposed to depict Lazarides' sister dressed in a yellow hoodie, black joggers and pink trainers, hunched over with her face in a bowl. The gallery posted a shot of the sculpture here.

According to Artnet News, the cops received a call at 17:32 on November 25, not long after Laz Emporium staff had locked up, expressing concern for an individual inside. Kristina can be seen clearly through the windows of the gallery.

Twenty minutes later, "officers forced entry to the address, where they uncovered that the person was in fact a mannequin," a police spokesperson told the outlet. "The Met has a duty of care to respond when there is a welfare concern."

Lazarides, who helped popularize street and underground art in the UK through his working association with Banksy, said that employee Hannah Blakemore "had just locked up and gone upstairs to make a cup of tea. She came down to find the door off its hinges and two confused police officers!"

Blakemore said the officers had been told that "the woman here has not been moving for the last two hours" and they suspected "a heart attack or she's overdosed." Obviously a little humiliated to realize that they had rushed to rescue an inanimate object, the police scolded Blakemore for having a sculpture that looked so lifelike. "The work is to provoke and it's definitely achieving that," she added.

And it's not the first time Kristina has caused a kerfuffle. When the sculpture was displayed at the Decorex art and design fair in October, someone called an ambulance, Blakemore said.

Lazarides said of Kristina: "She's certainly earned her money and has helped no end in getting people to stop and look at our stand, as well as upsetting an awful lot of traditional types. It's nice to get it in front of the right people and for them to have such a positive reaction."

He added: "The beige brigade were not impressed we had one batty old fruit screaming 'I don't like it, I don't like it'."

Though the work is not for sale, it is thought to be worth around £18,000 ($22,000). ®

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