Artist Trish Smith with her work Paleo dentriticus at Maffeo Sutton Park before it was damaged. The piece was vandalized this past weekend and has been removed from the park. (Photo submitted)

Artist Trish Smith with her work Paleo dentriticus at Maffeo Sutton Park before it was damaged. The piece was vandalized this past weekend and has been removed from the park. (Photo submitted)

Public art piece vandalized at Nanaimo park

Paleo dentriticus, part of temporary public art program, has been removed from Maffeo Sutton Park

A piece of public art at Maffeo Sutton Park sustained some serious damage over the weekend.

Chris Barfoot, the city’s culture and heritage coordinator, said a handcrafted wooden burl was vandalized sometime over the weekend.

“We’ve had staff remove the piece so the artist can assess the piece and take it back to the Comox Valley to make any necessary repairs,” he said.

The piece, called Paleo dentriticus, was created by Comox Valley-based artist Trish Smith and is part of Nanaimo’s 2017 temporary public art program.

Barfoot said it is rare for a public art piece to be damaged in Nanaimo.

“We’ve been really lucky because the program has been so well received because we’ve been able to display the artwork in areas that haven’t had the greatest sightlines but the artwork really lends itself to the area and enhances the space,” he said.

Smith told the News Bulletin she was saddened and shocked when she found out about the incident.

“It was disappointing,” she said.

Smith said the piece, which is valued at $4,000, took her more than a year to create. She said she is planning to head down to Nanaimo later this week to pick up the piece and repair it and is hoping the damage isn’t too severe.

“I did insure it just in case,” she said.

She said the base has been cracked and believes whoever did it might have been after the wood portion of the piece.

“Because it was a Douglas Fir burl, it was quite valuable. So somebody may have been trying to pull it out.”

Smith said she was so excited to have been selected for the city’s temporary art program and hopes to turn the incident into something positive.

“I am just an emerging artist,” she said. “I was very excited to be selected for the exhibition and to have it smashed like that so soon was somewhat disconcerting.”

nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com