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Fakenham sculpture vandalised

PUBLISHED: 17:15 18 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:43 07 July 2010

Graffiti scrawled on the Fakenham sculpture.

Graffiti scrawled on the Fakenham sculpture.

A controversial public art sculpture in Fakenham has been defaced by “mindless” vandals less than three months since it was installed.

The bold steel silhouette of an oak tree outside the Tesco store on Oak Street provoked mixed opinions when it was installed in January, with some criticising its appearance and saying it provided a target for vandals.

A controversial public art sculpture in Fakenham has been defaced by “mindless” vandals less than three months since it was installed.

The bold steel silhouette of an oak tree outside the Tesco store on Oak Street provoked mixed opinions when it was installed in January, with some criticising its appearance and saying it provided a target for vandals.

But supporters and opponents of the artwork united to condemn this weekend's graffiti attack on the £30,000 sculpture, which left all of its giant galvanised panels with scrawls from heavy marker pens.

North Norfolk artist Colin Miller said it was the first time any of his work had been targeted by vandals.

He said: “I am not personally offended but I am very disappointed.

“I expected and hoped that people would not be tempted to do this because it is not an offensive piece. Many children and their parents have been playing and hiding around it - it is that interaction which is the right thing to encourage.

“But people are at liberty to do what they like after dark when the pubs are closed. I thought the young of Fakenham would be able to sit on the benches and do what young people do without doing this sort of thing, which is pretty mindless.

“My brief was to provide work that was anti-vandal and I have done that to the best I could with the money available. But there is not much you can do to stop something like this.”

Mr Miller's design was chosen following a public consultation last April and funded by Tesco as part of the planning conditions for the store, which opened in 2006.

A Tesco spokesman said: “It is disappointing that this has happened after such a short time, but it is our responsibility, so we will get to work to clean it up.”

A spokesman for North Norfolk District Council, which commissioned the sculpture, said: “We will be looking at CCTV coverage and working with the police to see if the graffiti can be removed by the perpetrators if possible.

“The threat of vandalism is no reason not to go ahead with public art which is designed to brighten up our communities.”

Deputy mayor Mike Coates was one Fakenham figure who criticised the steel oak tree. He told a town council meeting last month that the straight upright edges of the structure could present a health and safety danger to anyone with imperfect eyesight.

He said: “Sadly, this was always going to happen. But whether you like the sculpture or not, something like that has a value and it is very sad to see it vandalised.”


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