One of my joys in our new house has been to sit at my desk looking out onto the street and observe the reactions of passers-by to Matilda – Matilda being the Art Student’s first ever sculpture, created from copper piping, wire mesh, plaster and ceramic tiles when she was still The Consultant. It was years of work, a joy in the making and a delight to live with. Now, several times a day, I eavesdropped on conversations like, ‘It’s not a real dog, Daddy,’ or ‘Now we’ll just say hello to Spot and then say hello again on our way back,’ or ‘No, you can’t climb in there with the doggy.’ She has become a small neighbourhood landmark.
So it was a shock this morning when the Art Student headed off to school this morning and saw that Matilda was gone. A passerby told her she’s seen ‘the dog’ on top of the bus shelter in Enmore Park. Sure enough, there she was:
It was obviously meant to be funny. It may also have been meant as a kind of compliment: instead of lurking in the bushes in a tiny front yard, Matilda was set free to sniff the wind above the street. It took some ingenuity to get her up there – at least two men and probably a ladder. This was planned. Our neighbour who sleeps in his front room said he hadn’t heard a thing in the night. It was stealthy.
It was also callous. Matilda lost an ear and two of her legs were broken. The Art Student was distraught.
I called the Council, the police and the fire brigade. The Council gave me a number and said they’d get back to me. The police said I could ring 131444 and lodge a complaint of malicious damage (it’s not theft because they didn’t keep it), and if they decided to tie up a police officer’;s time with the incident, fingerprints might be taken. The fire brigade said they’d come out in a couple of hours. Then Peter, the guy who’s been transforming our back yard for us, arrived and said he could do it. I held the ladder while he risked life and limb to manhandle the statue back to firm ground.
She’s now safely back home. I have no idea how much of th damage can be repaired, or whether the Art Student will ever again be quite so free about putting her work in the public eye.
Added in the evening: It’s now clear that the sculpture can’t be repaired. The armature is broken in at least five places. An ear is sheared off. Even if the armature was repairable, we no longer have the tiles that made up the mosaic.
Where the dog once stood there’s now a notice:
We’re not holding our breath.