Malden Manor’s new mosaic was vandalised at the weekend, just a week after it was unveiled.
The fox that is the centrepiece of the nature-themed artwork had its eyes gouged out on Saturday.
More than a thousand volunteers contributed to the mosaic, which was organised by the Save the World Club (SWC), a Kingston-based charity, in a bid to transform what had been an anti-social behaviour hotspot.
SWC chairman, Des Kay, said: “It’s quite heart-breaking for all of us.
“But we’ll repair it.”
NO EYE-DEA: The identity of those who stole the fox’s eyes is as yet uknown.
SWC treasurer Roland Lawrence, who discovered the eyes were missing around 4pm on Saturday, said he thought it highly unlikely the vandalism had been committed by a Malden Manor resident.
Mr Lawrence said that as he approached the bridge near Malden Manor station he saw three people close to the mosaic, none of whom he recognised, who moved quickly away.
He thought that the eyes – large amber-coloured stones – may have been taken for their perceived value.
He said: “They are quite attractive baubles, I suppose, although they’re not actually worth anything.”
Mr Kay said that, equally, it was possible that this was a ‘vindictive’ act.
He said: “My speculation is that there are some kids that feel that they’ve got territorial rights to the area, an area that they feel has been interfered with.”
Mr Kay added that SWC had explored the idea of introducing lighting to the area, but that the local biodiversity group had opposed the measure on the grounds that it would have a negative impact on insects.
The SWC specialises in community mosaics: it has constructed ten in total.
But Mr Kay said that, while previous mosaics had been damaged occasionally, the malicious quality of this attack was unprecedented.
“We just have to hope that eventually it will settle down,” he said. “If it persists I should think the police would get involved.”
Prior to this incident, the mosaic had been warmly received.
The mosaic was officially opened by Kingston Mayor Thay Thayalan on 23 March, before an enthusiastic crowd of more than 150.
CENTREPIECE: The fox is at the heart of the mosaic, which was unveiled last month.
It was inspired by community police officer Sophia Allinson, who suggested that a spot under a bridge by the Hogsmill River, a frequent site drinking and drug taking, was in need of renovation.
Many of the people who used to frequent the spot were involved in the mosaic’s creation, and the SWC said that in the process of making the mosaic eighteen of the twenty people who used to regularly spend time there had since either given up drugs and drinking or brought their consumption under control.
Head artist Kim Porrelli said: “Rather than it being a dark, unloved corridor it’s now a place that people want to visit, and that’s amazing.”
And Mr Kay remained optimistic.
The SWC hopes to construct ten more mosaics across Kingston over the next decade.
Mr Kay said that changing attitudes towards the environment, in particular, gave him hope.
He said: “We started Save the World Club in 1975 when there was nothing going on really in terms of people’s awareness in the environment, and now there’s this great movement.
“It’s very exciting.”