The portraits – by Australian photographer Vee Speers – depict children topless, dressed in costumes.

They have been on display at The Little Black Gallery in Chelsea since 13 September.

Gallery co-owner Ghislain Pascal confirmed to Amateur Photographer (AP) that the photos have attracted complaints from local residents, as reported by the Evening Standard earlier today.

Pascal, told AP: ‘You couldn’t make it up.

‘It is a great shame that our so-called well-educated neighbours seem to have no concept of what is art and what is not.

‘There is absolutely nothing in the slightest bit controversial about these images.

‘They show the innocence and playfulness of children at a birthday party.’

Speaking to the gallery following the controversy, Speers said: ‘For the past five years my series The Birthday Party, a playful and sensitive celebration of childhood, has been exhibited and published successfully around the world, from Europe, Russia, Scandinavia, China and South East Asia, to the United States and South America.

‘My work is part of the finest private and public collections, and I have been invited to speak to hundreds of people on countless occasions to share my stories of photographing children.

‘Never has anyone suggested my images inappropriate or pornographic, nor have I received any negative press.’

Similar images by Speers have been published in national newspapers.

The show is due to close on 20 October.

• See AP’s review of the exhibition in the magazine’s 6 October issue (on sale Tuesday 2 October)

Picture credit: Vee Speers, courtesy of The Little Black Gallery