Anger as vandals wreck sculptures

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STAFF at Pitmedden Garden have expressed anger and dismay, after a vandal attack which saw two valuable sculptures seriously damaged.

The vandals are believed to have broken into the gardens around 10.20pm last Tuesday, in an attack which will cost the National Trust tens of thousands of pounds to repair.

A sandstone lion - which dates to the 17th century - was dragged down to the garden’s fountain where it was smashed, causing damage to the fountain’s lead lining. The other piece - the Kielder Column, by John Maine - was toppled, leaving it in pieces. Mr Maine is since understood to have requested removal of his piece, while the NTS has hired a specialist art restorer in an attempt to salvage the C17th lion.

Head Gardener Susan Burgess - who stays on the premises - told the Times that she thought she had heard the attack.

“Myself and a colleague heard a bang around about 10.20, and went outside to listen. We didn’t know what it was we were hearing.

“We would very much like to find out who did this. Our security is generally pretty good, but there’s always a balance between displaying pieces and making them safe.

“It looks to us like the work of a teenager or adult, given the force necessary to lift the stone lion and break it, and to topple the other piece. There was no sign of forced entry.”

The intruders left a white sports sock, and a broken bottle of whisky in the fountain.

“Whoever did this got wet, and went home with one sock,” said Susan. “The response we’ve had thus far has been heartening, and we really hope that whoever did this is caught.”

Although damage to the lion is serious, it is believed to be reparable, with sculpture conservator Graciella Ainsworth being drafted to put the piece back together.