Woman suspended from ceiling on hooks in shark protest

A Northampton woman was suspended from a shop ceiling by shark hooks in protest at fishermen's treatment of the animal.

Performance artist Alice Newstead had the hooks put through the skin on her back before being suspended in the Lush cosmetics shop in Regent Street for 15 minutes.

She took the drastic action in protest at the practice of finning - where sharks are impaled on hooks, before their fins are sliced off and they are thrown back into the ocean still alive.

Miss Newstead, who used to work at the store, said: "I am doing this because the demand for shark fin soup and other shark products is wiping out the shark population.

"I have had my torso, legs, arms, stomach and knees pierced before so that I could hang from them, so this is no big deal.

"Being hung from the chest is more painful than the back because it restricts your breathing, but as long as the piercer knows what they are doing then it is completely safe," she said.

A crowd gathered outside the store to see the 26-year-old impaled on the hooks and gasped as blood trickled down her back.

Miss Newstead, who was born in Northampton and lives in Watford, left her job as a Lush sales assistant in June, so she could work full-time as an artist.

She performs with a group called Constant Elevation, whose members specialise in hanging from hooks pierced through their skin.

Today's stunt was thought up by Lush and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an action group that protects marine wildlife.

Miss Newstead added: "I think this has made a big impact and generated lots of attention for Sea Shepherd.

"I was a bit nervous because of all the people watching but it was fine. I would not do this if it was really painful. I will be left with scars but the wounds will heal."

Lush has created a new product, Shark Fin Soap, for the campaign, and is selling 11,416 bars - the number of sharks killed each hour, with all proceeds going to Sea Shepherd.