Damaged Swimmer sculpture recovered

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

A missing sculpture mystery in Stellenbosch has been solved after parents of a vandal found the stolen artwork in their toilet.

Cape Town actress and artist Sue Pam Grant’s sculpture ‘Swimmer No. 5’ was sliced above the ankles and stolen off its base during the night of September 12. It stood behind a fence at the Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens.

Remains of Swimmer no. 5

Andi Norton, project manager of the 20 Stellenbosch sculpture exhibition, told the Cape Times yesterday that a “young man from Parow” vandalised the sculpture.

“It’s someone who was visiting friends or a girlfriend at the weekend. Two weeks ago his family’s lawyer phoned me to say that his parents found it in their bathroom. They then returned the sculpture to the gallery that represents the artist in Stellenbosch,” said Norton.

She said the family agreed to pay the R60,000 fee for the artwork while ‘Swimmer No. 5’ would be destroyed.

“We will not lay criminal charges (against the vandal). We feel very appreciative to the parents that they gave us the information. We are grateful to them because a lot of parents would not do that,” said Norton.

The sculpture’s remaining feet and base have been removed from the Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens where it had been on display since October last year.

Grant would not speak to the Cape Times but her Facebook profile revealed she hoped this vandalism was not “just a drunken idiot’s juvenile attempt at trying to display his or her testosterone surges”.

“Whoever stole it had to climb over a huge fence as the botanical gardens gets locked at night. Astonishing… There is a ghostly presence in it’s absence… a strong comment as it stands in its mutilated form,” she said.

Mark Legward, one of her friends, replied: “Console yourself with the thought that someone wanted her very badly and there’s a student with a new plaster bedfellow.”

Grant replied: “It is a form of theatre, of course. At last the public engages with art in a very robust manner!”

Vernon Bowers, spokesperson for the Stellenbosch municipality, said “it’s a relief” that the sculpture had been found. He said the municipality generally offered a R5,000 reward for the reporting, arrest and conviction of any vandal.

“I cannot confirm now if the municipality will take legal action against this vandal,” he said yesterday.

Alderman Conrad Sidego, the Stellenbosch mayor, said vandalism was “shameful behaviour”.
This article was published in the Cape Times daily regional newspaper in the Western Cape, South Africa, on October 8 2012.


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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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