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College students these days are certainly prone to ideological dustups: currently, at Imperial College in London, a group of students are moving to block the installation of a sculpture by artist Sir Antony Gormley due to concerns that the steel structure, which certain students are claiming is “phallic in nature,” will “hurt the image and reputation of the college.

The motion to block the sculpture, which is being distributed by the Imperial College Union, claims that while the sculpture is purportedly depicting a squatting human body, it instead evokes a phallus that amounts to a protuberance that sticks out “approximately three meters horizontally.”

    There’s “nothing inherently wrong with phallic imagery in art,” the motion continues, but the “phallic interpretation’s preoccupation with the penis could be considered inappropriate for a grand public display, especially given the statue’s size.” The Daily Beast reached out to the Imperial College Union for comment.

    “Despite the support within the union, and that the paper has apparently been seen by senior college staff and Gormley’s team, I doubt that it will affect the installation of ALERT,” an anonymous Imperial College student told The Art Newspaper. “I think that this is not the sort of thing that the college would pull out of or listen to students about.”

    There’s something inherently depressing, frankly, about young students reacting so vehemently to a sculptural interpretation of the human form. Even if the artwork is a penis in disguise: who cares?

    The statue, entitled ALERT, consists of blocks of steel coated in stable oxide, ensuring that as it is exposed to the elements, it will take on a more rusty hue.

    “Through the conversion of anatomy into an architectural construction I want to re-assess the relation between body and space,” Gormley explained in a statement. “Balancing on the balls of the feet while squatting on its haunches and surveying the world around it, the attitude of this sculpture is alive, alert and awake.”

    Gormley’s work has been at the center of sex-related controversy before: in 2021, iron sculptures by the artist were removed from East Suffolk beach after detractors complained that they looked like sex toys, or in some cases, rabbit droppings.

    It’s also not the first time a sculpture by Gormley has drawn the ire of students: in 2018, Clasp, a sculpture by Gormley installed at at Newcastle University, was protested against by many different students who found the spindly structure to be a “weird thing,” “a piece of driftwood,” “ugly” and “horrible.”

    “Public art can stimulate conversation and enrich our surroundings,” professor Eric Cross, the Dean of Cultural Affairs at Newcastle, said at the time. “The scale of this striking work and its prominent position will create a new focal point on campus, and give an opportunity to reflect on our relationship with others and our environment.”

    The specific part of the new statue that the Imperial College Union appears to be taking issue with is the part of the rendering which Gormley claims is evoking knees. The students instead think that this part is a penis.

    “While the artist’s intended form may [evoke our] ‘community of scientific research’ the phallic interpretation does not,” the motion from the Union continues. “The name ALERT could also be understood as referring to the statue’s phallus being erect.”

    The Daily Beast also reached out to Gormley and Imperial College for comment.

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    Tags: fever dreams pets the statue’s the installation college students think that this the daily beast reached out the sculpture sculpture students at newcastle to block part the college for comment

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    Model reveals how she avoided becoming the Manson Family’s sixth victim and recalls Sharon Tate’s final words to her

    A FORMER model and aspiring actress has recounted how she was narrowly spared from becoming the Manson family's sixth victim thanks to a faulty gas gauge on her vintage Rolls Royce.

    Ava Roosevelt, then 21, was driving to the Cielo Drive home of her close friend Sharon Tate late on August 8, 1969, when the fuel light started flickering on the dashboard of her beloved 1955 Silver Dawn.

    17Ava Roosevelt (above) was 21 years old when her friend Sharon Tate was murdered alongside four others at her LA homeCredit: Ava Roosevelt 17Tate (right, with husband Roman Polanski) was nine months pregnant at the time of her deathCredit: Hulton Archive - Getty 17Charles Manson directed the killings, which later became known as the 'Helter Skelter' murdersCredit: AP:Associated Press

    Showing that her gas tank was almost empty, Ava sighed and looked down at her watch and glanced at the time. It was 11.30pm.

    Believing that her car could break down any second, and realizing that there wasn't a gas station around for several miles, Ava headed back home and opted to get an early night instead.

    That decision, she would later learn, had spared her from meeting a horrific fate.

    Around 15 minutes after Ava had turned her car back toward the direction of home, a group of loyal followers of Charles Manson broke into Tate's Los Angeles mansion under the now-infamous cult leader's instructions.

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    Led by Charles "Tex" Watson, the group—which also included Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, and Patricia Krenwinkel—butchered the heavily pregnant Tate, an actress and wife to director Roman Polanski, along with four others.

    Fifty-three years on, Ava told The US Sun she still battles with feelings of guilt for having been spared the same brutal end as Tate, who was stabbed at least 16 times.

    "Every time August 8 comes around I feel a little bit guilty for being alive because you know, 53 years it's a tremendous amount of time, and they were all robbed of it," Ava, now 72, said.

    "I'm left thinking, 'Why am I still here and they're not?'

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    "But it's also given me this incredible gratitude and such an appreciation of life, for being allowed the chance to live my life as I have.

    "I never looked at it as anything other than just an act of God; if anything it really reaffirmed my faith that a higher power, or whatever you want to call it, does exist - and I think it was watching over me that night."


    Ava had moved from her native Poland to Los Angeles, California, just a few months before the murders in search of fame and fortune as both a model and an actress.

    Shortly after arriving in Tinsel Town, she reached out to her friend and fellow Pole Roman Polanski, whom she'd met in her homeland a few years earlier following the release of his 1962 film, Knife in the Water.

    Her reaquantance with Polanski quickly led to an introduction to Tate, a star in her own right, who was already pregnant with her first child when she crossed paths with Ava.

    Calling Tate both captivating and as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside, Ava quickly struck up a close bond with Tate, describing her as being like the sister she never had but had always wanted.

    "Sharon took me in right away ... she was very genuine and very kind to me," said Ava.

    "I was very young, relatively speaking, and in comparison to a lot of the other people that she knew, we didn't have a history, but still she welcomed me with open arms and really took me under her wing."

    17Ava (right) is pictured with Roman Polanski (left)Credit: Ava Roosevelt 17Tate was a star in her own right, finding success as a model and an actressCredit: AP:Associated Press 17The home Tate shared with Polanski along Cielo Drive is seen aboveCredit: AP:Associated Press

    With their friendship quickly blossoming, Tate introduced Ava to her circle of friends and the pair started hanging out frequently at Tate's Cielo Drive home between Ava's auditions and castings.

    Tate would give Ava clothes to try on, help her with her hair and makeup, and offer her advice on how to navigate the chaos and fickle nature of Hollywood.

    "She and Roman became my family, they're friends became my family too," added Ava.

    "So it was a really horrific horrific blow [when they were killed] because I was living on my own in Los Angeles without my parents.

    "And losing them meant I'd lost my family in LA too.

    "It was very hard to cope with."


    On Aug. 8, 1969, Ava had been at her agent's home when she received a phone call from Tate, asking if she wanted to go out to dinner with her that night, along with celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring, screenwriter Voytek Frykowski, and coffee fortune heir Abigail Folger.

    The group had a reservation at El Cayote for 7.30pm, Tate told her, though Ava had to reluctantly decline.

    Ava had to meet a German producer for dinner that night, she infromed Tate, and she also had to be up for commercial shoot at 5.30am the next morning.

    Tate, refusing to take no for an answer, asked Ava that if she couldn't make the dinner then she should at least swing by for a drink at Cielo Drive around 10.30pm.

    "I'll try!" Ava told her.

    "Do that darling, I love you," Tate responded, which unbeknown to Ava at the time would be the final words she'd ever utter to her.

    Ava went to the dinner with the producer as planned and afterwards jumped into her Rolls Royce and headed towards Tate's home.

    On the way, she stopped by the home of her friend John Phillips, the founding member of the Mamas & Papas, but found the house dark, so she re-fired her engine and carried on towards Tate's.


    Ava had been driving uphill, about to turn onto Cielo Drive, when the gas gauge of her Rolls Royce flickered on and suddenly dropped to empty.

    "My 1955 Silver Dawn Rolls Royce was notorious for having everything in it broken or just not working properly," laughed Ava.

    "Those cars were just beautiful pieces of art that were not meant to be driven.

    "In that moment I said to myself, 'if I run out of gas here, there is no station near me and I'm really going to be in trouble and I won't make my 5.30am call time.'"

    17Avaq moved to the US from her native Poland just a few months before the killingsCredit: Ava Roosevelt 17She avoided become the sixth victim that night after her car's fuel gauge began malfunctioningCredit: Ava Roosevelt 17Investigators are seen wheeling a body out from the home the day after the murdersCredit: Getty 17Murder victims, Sharon Tate (second left), Jay Sebring (second right), Abigail Folger, (right), Voityck Frykowski (left), and Steven Parent (centre)Credit: AP:Associated Press

    Begrudgingly, Ava decided to turn around and go home out of an abundance of caution.

    She went to bed that night and awoke early the next morning, completely unaware of the horror from which her car trouble had spared her.

    It turned out the tank of her ailing car was almost completely full.

    But that misleading glitch on her dashboard had actually saved her life.


    The next day, after finishing her commercial shoot, Ava had been leaving the stage lot when her manager pulled up in her blue convertible with an ashen face.

    "She was sheet-white," Ava remembered. "She intercepted me as I was walking and just said, 'sit down.'

    "So I did and she said, 'You know they're all dead, right?'

    "And I said 'who is dead?', this was before the times of instant news, and she told me, 'They're all dead - Sharon, all of them.'

    "I just couldn't believe it."

    Sharon Tate, who was nine months pregnant, had been stabbed 16 times - at least five times fatally - and was found laying on the living room floor with a rope wound twice around her neck.

    Her unborn baby, a little boy, was also killed in the attack.

    Found nearby her body was the lifeless corpse of Jay Sebring, who was also had a rope around his neck and was murdered in similar brutal fashion.

    Abigail Folger and Wojciech Frykowski were found dead in the yard having both tried and failed to escape from the home in separate attempts.

    Folger escaped from Patricia Krenwinkel and fled out of a bedroom door to the pool area where Krenwinkel tackled her and stabbed her multiple times.

    Tex Watson joined in on the assault, and Folger was stabbed by her frenzied attackers a total of 28 times.

    17Murderers Charles Manson (left), with Patricia Krenwinkle (second left), Susan Atkins, (second from right), Leslie Van Houten, (right). and Charles "Tex" Watson (centre)Credit: AP:Associated Press 17Ava went on to become a writer and has published her own novel which she has adapted into a screen playCredit: Getty 17LA County coroner's office take notes and look at the bodies found on the lawn of the Sharon Tate-Roman Polanski homeCredit: Getty

    Similarly, Frykowski attempted to flee from Watson but the Manson acolyte caught up to him and shot him numerous times before stabbing him over and over again.

    In addition to suffering a sickening 51 stab wounds and numerous gunshot wounds, Frykowski was struck in the head 13 times by the butt of Watson's gun.

    Also killed in the rampage was Stephen Parent, a man visiting the property caretaker, who happened to be driving by the Tate-Polanski home at the wrong time.

    Watson stabbed Parent before shooting him several times with a 22-caliber revolver. The gunshots killed Parent, and Watson left him lying on the ground as the killers made their way inside the home.

    Two days later, the Manson family would strike again, this time dispatching of Leno La Bianca and his wife, Rosemary, in their Los Angeles home.

    The brutal killings would later become collectively known as the "Helter Skelter" murders, getting its name from a song by The Beatles that Manson believed contained secret messages about an impending race war that would end civilization as we know it.


    As she was struggling to come to terms with the loss of her friends -not least the brutal way in which their lives were claimed - Ava fled to Malibu after the La Blanca murders, believing she could be next.

    Arriving at the same safehouse a few days later was Roman Polanski, who had been overseas shooting a film in London at the time of Tate's death.

    The director, Ava recounted, was completely inconsolable.

    "He was a basket case," Ava said.

    "I think Sharon was the brightest, shining light in his life. They were really happy, and have a really good marriage and a bright future, but suddenly all of that was gone.

    "I'm sure he was given some kind of medication to keep him functioning but he was a basket case, there's no other way to describe it.

    "And you cannot console someone like that, there is nothing you can do or say to help them.

    "I have never seen a human being being so sad, and I don't think he ever recovered from it."


    Haunted by her own close shave with death, Ava left Los Angeles shortly after, bringing a premature end to her California dreaming.

    She spent time in New York and traveled across Europe, searching in her own words for "some kind of real, solid life."

    "The Hollywood motion picture industry, all of this sounds incredibly glamorous but we all know it isn't.

    "Still, I saw the best side of it. Nothing bad ever happened to me there, I was a working model, I made good money and I had a great group of friends.

    "But then all of a sudden, 'boof' it was gone - and when it was gone, my innocence was taken away with it.

    "I just decided that I just really didn't want to live there and want to have anything to do with that town because you know, ultimately you want to really blame some thing or somebody when something like this happens."

    17Charles Manson died behind bars in 2017Credit: AP:Associated Press 17Ava remembers Sharon Tate as someone who was as beautiful on the outside as she was on in the insideCredit: Getty 17Tate was just 26 at the time of her deathCredit: Getty - Contributor 17Ava's debut novel, The Racing Heart, is seen aboveCredit: Ava Roosevelt

    Ava continued: "I never wanted to feel any anger or resentment, I wanted to make sure something positive came out of this horrible thing.

    "So I think I turned my whole life towards that, to being a positive voice in other peoples lives and helping others just like Sharon had for me."


    Ava, who now splits her time between Florida and Connecticut, went on to studying writing at Columbia University and even published her own novel, titled The Racing Heart, which is a romantic thriller about a model who gets embroiled in a plot to kill the US President.

    The widow, who was married to Franklin D. Roosevelt's grandson, recently adapted the book into a screenplay which she plans pitch to Hollywood's biggest players.

    Pondering where Sharon Tate would be today, had her life not been tragically cut short, Ava said: "I think she would have been a wonderful mother of multiple children, I think that's really what she wanted in life.

    "I think that the pregnancy and the way she was preparing for it, it would have been the performance of her life.

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    "There was a beauty in the way about how she looked and how she kept herself when she was pregnant.

    "The whole thing was just a dream that became a horrible, horrible nightmare."

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