Security was beefed up at the opening of a controversial women-only art exhibition yesterday.

Despite the added personnel, protesters failed to turn out at the Lower Hutt Dowse Gallery opening.

Cinderazahd: For Your Eyes Only by Qatar artist Sophia Al-Maria has attracted huge criticism for being for women-only.

The exhibition features a video clip shot on a handcam over-the-shoulder of a group of Muslim women and children getting glammed up for a wedding event.


The footage - which men are banned from watching - shows children running around as older women put glitter on their skin and in their hair and get sewn into their colourful dresses.

Laughter is often heard between the women, including one who jokes when another cannot open the door.

One is heard to say: "Turn around you donkey".

The three-minute clip, which shows Muslim women getting ready for a ball without their veils on, created a stir when it was revealed that the artist's wish was that no males viewed it and the Dowse would follow those wishes.

One man complained to the Human Rights Commission but, after mediation last week, he said he would not try to attend the exhibition.

Dowse spokeswoman Rachel Healy said while a steady stream of women looked at the video there were no problems.

Dowse director Cam McCracken said he had never watched the video but it was important in demystifying various beliefs about Islam.

"We respect people's views but we hope that by doing this we may actually change a few minds."