Letters: Sunflower Seeds at Tate Modern – health and safety gone sensible

Letters: The disappointment of a few visitors is surely a better outcome than long-term, and possibly fatal, health effects for workers at the gallery

Your article on Tate Modern's decision to stop visitors interacting with Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds installation misses the point (Keep off the art: dust puts sunflowers out of bounds, 16 October). It consists of a series of quotes from people complaining about "health and safety gone mad". They, and you, have thoughtlessly failed to consider the people who will be most affected by the large amounts of ceramic dust that was being created as people interacted with the exhibition.

While the health and safety of the general public is important, it will be Tate Modern staff who will suffer from prolonged exposure to such dust. That is why many of them quite rightly refused to work on the exhibition, supported by their PCS union reps, and ensured that management took their views seriously.

My partner works at the gallery, and my son and I are glad that she was part of this refusal. The disappointment of a few visitors is surely a better outcome than long-term, and possibly fatal, health effects for her and other workers at the gallery. Despite the decision, people can still view the work in the same way they would almost every other piece of art – by looking at it.

Matthew Cookson


• Tate Modern seeds? Ceramic dust? Sounds like a good use for stockpiled swine flu masks. Kind of makes it more "art", though not sure how.

Tim Campbell


• One wonders how many 35mm canisters would be needed to collect all those seeds at Tate Modern. The seeds packed away as such would cause less dust, and the pods could be strong enough for the public to walk on.

Umesh Patel


• I am surprised at the admission by Charlotte Higgins that she stole a porcelain sunflower seed from the new installation at Tate Modern (Is it OK to steal a Turbine Hall seed?, G2, 13 October).

She seems to justify herself by saying that because there 100 million of these objects on the floor of the Turbine Hall, the Tate can afford to lose one to every one of the 2 million expected visitors. But where would she draw the line?

Antony Gormley's Field for the British Isles is composed of 40,000 terracotta figures; would she steal one of those? Or take one of Carl Andre's 120 bricks?

John Dickinson


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