The Martyrdom of St. Anne by Diana Thorneycraft features an Anne doll carrying plasticine representations of her breasts on a platter. ((Diana Thorneycraft))

An Ottawa exhibition that depicts the martyrdom of famous Canadian icons could upset some fans of Anne of Green Gables.


Thorneycraft's image is based on the Martyrdom of St. Agatha, by Francisco de Zurbaran.

Artist Diana Thorneycroft uses Canadian icons to show how religion and torture have come together over the centuries, and her exhibit includes a photograph of a mutilated Anne of Green Gables doll.

"She is standing with a plate, and on her plate are her severed breasts," Thorneycroft told CBC News Monday.

"I'm totally aware that this work could upset some people."

The image is based on a 17th-century painting by the Spanish painter Francisco de Zurbaran depicting St. Agatha, who was tortured when she refused to marry a pagan prince in the third century.

"Having her breasts severed was just step 1," said Thorneycroft.

"The guy who wanted to marry her, he did monstrous things to her. It was truly horrible. This went on then, and this is going on today. The things we are capable of doing to each other, the list is phenomenal."

The Canadian Martyrdom Series consists of photos of dioramas put together with dolls. It also features Céline Dion, Wayne Gretzky and Don Cherry.

While Thorneycroft's exhibit has grabbed attention in Ottawa, so far her portrayal of Anne of Green Gables hasn't caught the eye of P.E.I.'s Anne Licensing Authority, which was established to protect the integrity of Anne.

Thorneycroft said she's not worried about the authority.

"If I were to be fearful of all trademarks and infringements violations, I wouldn't do any work," she said.

No one from the Anne Licensing Authority returned calls from CBC News on Monday.

The Canadian Martyrdom Series will be on display at the Ottawa School of Art Gallery until Nov. 22.