THE family of sporting legend Steve Donoghue were left angry after a portrait of him in Warrington Museum and Art Gallery was ‘covered’ by a knitted banner.

The Warrington-born flat-race jockey’s greatest triumphs came in the Epsom Derby, which he won six times, including three successive victories on Humorist in 1921, Captain Cuttle in 1922 and Papyrus in 1923.

The portrait of Donoghue, who died at the age of 60 in 1945, was unveiled at the Bold Street site in October 2017.

However, members of his family, including Julie Dove, were shocked to see a knitted banner – which featured the text ‘I felt really self conscious about my accent’ – had been placed in front of it when they visited last Saturday.

It was produced by artist Marie Jones, who is known as Kochi Kochi.

Donoghue was the great uncle of Lower Stretton resident Julie.

She said: “Last Saturday, I went with a family member to see Eric Tucker’s marvellous exhibition at Warrington Museum.

“As we passed through the rooms, I noticed Steve’s portrait had been covered by a knitted banner, as had other paintings within the gallery.”

Warrington Guardian:

The portrait of Donoghue was unveiled in October 2017

After reading the accompanying notice, Julie says she felt as though the piece of art represented an ‘intervention’ due to the amount of paintings painted by male artists.

She added: “I have to say I was horrified that the museum had allowed a feminist political statement to be made by covering the donated portrait of a local hero.

“Warrington does not have a great deal of historical greats to boast about.

“The family considers it an act of vandalism, however temporary.

“While the artist says that these words have no connection to the subject of the painting, polling some of the public in the museum on Saturday, they clearly thought it did.

“Surely this makes Steve, the lad from St Mary’s School who went on to achieve great things, appear embarrassed by his Warrington roots. Is this what Warrington Museum should be promoting?

“When will this extreme politically correct nonsense stop?

“It is divisive and discriminatory and I’m sick to the back teeth of it.”

Culture Warrington’s cultural manager Leah Biddle met with Julie on Wednesday to discuss the situation.

And she has issued a statement to provide an update on the situation.

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“I had a really positive meeting with Julie in which we offered a number of solutions,” she said.

“Steps have already been taken to increase the gap between Marie’s banner and the painting of Steve Donoghue to 1.25 metres and signs are now on display in the museum to add further context to Marie’s work.

“We have also displayed links and QR codes to video footage both in the museum and on our social media pages to directly show where the quote from the female Warrington artist referred to on the banner has come from, to avoid any further confusion.

“Culture Warrington prides itself on offering a wide range of engaging art and entertainment opportunities and we’re delighted to be working with pioneering artists such as Marie Jones, whose work is highly-acclaimed by the industry and visitors alike and has even been highlighted by major media outlets such as ITV.

“We realise that art is subjective so strive to represent the whole spectrum of artistic genres, from Luke Jerram’s hugely successful Museum of the Moon, to Marie’s trailblazing temporary exhibition and, of course, our exquisite permanent art display featuring the portrait of Steve Donoghue.”