The public art piece Rock Dragon by Heather Wall, before and after the top of the sculpture was stolen from Maffeo Sutton Park last week. NEWS BULLETIN photos

Dragon stolen from Vancouver Island park

Aluminum dragon sculpture taken from public art display in Nanaimo

The hunt is on for a dragon on the loose following a theft in Nanaimo last week.

The beast in question was crafted out of an estimated 34 kilograms of welded aluminum by Powell River sculptor Heather Wall and was the crowning element of Rock Dragon, an art installation she created for Nanaimo’s temporary public art program.

The piece was installed atop a pole and sphere, created from rocks and steel at the north corner of Maffeo Sutton Park, but sometime between midnight and 5:30 a.m. Friday, according to Chris Barfoot, city culture and heritage coordinator, someone unbolted the dragon from its 2.5-metre-high perch and made off with it.

“It was installed in the middle of June, so it was about two and a half weeks on display,” Barfoot said. “The artist did some extra work to the project prior to the install to be sure that it would be able to sustain, you know, the typical interaction that the public has with the projects and we didn’t expect this to happen.”

Wall, who describes herself as a “semi-emerging” metal sculptor who started working in metal four years ago, said she put in three weeks of 12-hour-long days to finish the dragon on time for the city’s installation deadline.

“I’m still trying to wrap my head around it … I was pulling my hair out, 12-hour days trying to get it done and it’s there for two and a half weeks and now it’s gone … Someone loved it enough to steal it, that’s the crazy part,” Wall said.

She estimates the value of the sculpture, based on recent sales of her other works, at $12,000 to $15,000.

Wall said she has had other pieces damaged, but none stolen.

“Whenever I take a sculpture somewhere and I walk away from it I have a day of, kind of, separation anxiety,” she said. “You put your heart and soul into these things and then you just leave it.”

Wall said she believes, given the difficulty of the task of removing the dragon, the theft was planned and likely required more than one person to carry out. She said if the dragon doesn’t turn up somewhere or isn’t returned, she’ll likely make another one.

“I don’t let people push me down,” she said. “I’ll make a new one if I have to. Hopefully he’ll turn up … he’s in someone’s garage being worshipped right now. He’s in a special place we have for dragons. Is there going to be a ransom note, you know? I shouldn’t joke about it, but it’s the only way I’m dealing with it right now.”

Barfoot said the theft of the dragon is frustrating and upsetting.

“The benefit of this program is that, on a yearly basis, we get art from artists across Canada who look to Nanaimo as being a really great place to display their work of art … we want the artist to feel that this is a safe place to display their art. We don’t want this isolated incident to jeopardize that,” Barfoot said.

He said the public art program has been successful since 2010.

“What really upsets us the most is this is an opportunity lost for the community to really enjoy a great piece of public art,” Barfoot said.

Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said police are investigating the theft.

“It is an active investigation and the sooner we have this returned to its lawful owner, the better,” O’Brien said.

Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345. To to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or leave a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.



photos@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Nanaimo Airport set to welcome 8 charter planes for BC Summer Games

Hundreds of athletes and support officials from around the province will arrive… Continue reading

Large suspected ammo found at Cassidy recycling facility

Area businesses voluntarily evacuated

BC Games marks 40 years in 2018

Cowichan Games a milestone for BC Games Society

Campfire ban coming into effect across West Coast

The Coastal Fire Centre says bans will begin on Wednesday

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Hells Angels celebrating 35th anniversary party on Vancouver Island

Additional police resources will be in Nanaimo this weekend as roughly 300 members and hang arounds are expected

New campaign aims to tide food waste at home

About 2.2 million tonnes of edible food is discarded in Canada every year

B.C. couple reunited with dog three years after disappearance

A purebred Pomeranian is back with his parents, likely after years in a puppy mill.

BC Nurses Union calls for decriminalization of opioids

BCNU president wants the federal government to do more to reduce preventable deaths

Kitten OK after being rescued from underground pipe in B.C.

An adventurous feline has been rescued after getting trapped in an underground pipe in Kamloops, B.C.

A day after back-tracking, Trump defends summit performance

Amid bipartisan condemnation of his embrace of a longtime U.S. enemy, Trump at first sought to end 27 hours of recrimination by delivering a rare admission of error Tuesday.

Thai soccer players rescued from cave meet the media

Members of the Thai youth soccer team who were trapped in a cave have left the hospital where they have been treated since their rescue.

Elon Musk apologizes for calling cave rescue diver a ‘pedo’

Musk called a British diver involved in the Thailand cave rescue a pedophile to his 22.3 million Twitter followers on July 15.

Most Read