VISITORS to Sculpture by the Sea at Cottesloe Beach (SBTS) were disappointed by the damage and theft of a sculpture – recovered by police – and said they hoped it would not deter future entrants.
The Weekly chatted to people in the area last Friday in the wake of the theft the previous day.
Detectives have charged a 24-year old Marmion man in relation to the $65,000 removal of red man smiling sculpture after executing a search warrant, finding the sculpture and seizing a vehicle.
The accused was charged with criminal damage, stealing and no authority to drive. He will appear in Perth Magistrates Court on April 12.
Childhood Morning # 12, by Chinese artist Chen Wenling, was removed from the ankles between 3am and 3.25am. The incident was reported to police soon after.
The security company MSS Security employed by the exhibition organisers declined to comment.
An exhibition spokeswoman said it was the first time a theft had occurred.
“There have been occasions where security have stepped in to ask over zealous visitors, climbing on sculptures for instance, to step down but no-one has ever stolen or vandalised a sculpture like this before,” she said.
SBTS director David Handley described the theft as “unfathomable”.
“There were a number of security guards on site and the efforts required to remove the sculpture that was firmly fixed to the ground would have been considerable and noisy,” Mr Handley said.
“I can’t understand how it was possible. It was a secure area and we’re still trying to work out why it wasn’t the case. Someone was meant to be positioned on the stairs at all times, but my best guess is that it was rocked back and forth for five minutes or so until it gave way.”
Sorrento resident Ken Bedwell said it was his first time at the exhibition.
“It’s dreadful that the sculpture was vandalised, and it might be a bit embarrassing for the security company, but I definitely think people will still come along,” Mr Bedwell said.
Carine resident Denise Webb, also visiting for the first time, said it was a “magnificent” exhibition.
“It’s wonderful that we have an opportunity to see such a diversity of artworks, but it’s such a shame that some people have ruined part of the exhibition – maybe the organisers will have to charge admission next time to cover the costs?” Ms Webb said.
Cottesloe resident Natalie Kendal said it was her fifth visit.
“It’s a great event. I bring my children along every year and this year’s collection is much bigger and really diverse,” Ms Kendal said.
“It’s really unfortunate (about the vandalism) and I wonder if it’s going to affect it at all – I hope it doesn’t deter entries in future years.”
Murdoch resident Stuart Nell said he was surprised at the number of people at the beach.
“There’s always some people wanting to damage something but I think people will still come along,” he said.
Nedlands resident Nathan Froese said he had seen part of another sculpture – the sandbag wall – pushed down.
He hoped an admission fee would not be charged.