Art stolen from walls of Tarring doctors’ surgery

Karen Simporis at the surgery
Karen Simporis at the surgery

ARTISTS have been left “saddened and shocked” after pieces of art were stolen from a doctors’ surgery in Tarring.

The Sunny Worthing Arts Group (SWAG) had been displaying numerous art works at St Lawrence Surgery, in St Lawrence Avenue, but after nine pieces were stolen between last December and April, the group has been forced to withdraw the exhibition.

One artist, Tone Holeman, has had three works of art, worth about £300, stolen. They were created after a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Norway.

Tone, who is Norwegian but lives in Worthing, said: “It’s so unbelievable and so sad that people can stoop so low.

“I can’t understand how the thief could sit in their lounge and look at a painting they had stolen.”

Tone created the paintings after a residency on board a ship carrying out research into climate change at the North Pole.

“I will never get to experience what I saw on that trip again – those paintings captured a moment in time,” she said.

Of the artwork, which is worth about £1,500 in total, eight paintings and one mosaic have been stolen.

SWAG chairwoman Karen Simporis said: “The Sunny Worthing Arts Group has been running the popular Art Around Town scheme, which puts local artists into local venues in Worthing, since 2000, and previously the only piece to go missing was a large nude from the Connaught Theatre in 2002.

“At the end of last year two paintings went missing and we thought it was a one-off. But then the surgery re-opened following a refit and since then seven more art works have been taken.

“What’s most shocking is two of the pieces were displayed right next to the reception. The artists are now all very upset – some had buyers for their art.”

The group has informed the police of the thefts, but so far none have been recovered.

Karen added: “We love exhibiting at St Lawrence as so many different people get to see the artists’ work and it really brightens up the surgery. We’ve had a lot of very positive feedback so would hate to pull out altogether.”

St Lawrence Surgery practice manager, Jo Wadey, said: “We are so disappointed. We’re now looking at more secure fixings so we can continue with the scheme.”

Instead of art on the walls, the surgery’s electronic screen now says “blank walls for now”.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “On Friday, May 13, police were informed that at some time since April 13, three paintings valued at approximately £300 had been stolen while on display at the St Lawrence Surgery. At the same time, it was reported that a further five paintings had been taken since January.”

The theft of the first painting, In December, was not reported to the police

Anyone who knows the whereabouts of the stolen art should contact Karen Simporis on 232875, email enquiries@swagonline.org or contact St Lawrence Surgery on 222900.