Vandals slash exhibition paintings

AN ARTIST who took her husband to see an exhibition which included her work found that her painting had been ripped to shreds. What surprised her most was that it was still hanging, along with 11 other slashed paintings, and the gallery space was still open to the public.

Visitors could be forgiven for thinking that the slashed works were inspired by Lucio Fontana, the Italian 20th-century artist who made his name with slashed or 'slit' monochromatic canvases.

Irene Currie, a third-year student at Camberwell Art School had been planning to show the painting in her degree show this June. Neither she nor the Tabernacle Community Centre in Notting Hill, west London, is insured. When she asked an attendant why no one had called her and why the exhibition had remained open, she was told that there had been a break-in and the paintings vandalised, and that the show's organiser was on holiday.

There are about 50 exhibits in the 'Portobello Open' show. Vandals picked on just the canvases. Ms Currie said: 'Some have just one knife slash through them; mine was cut along the top and the length . . . They went on an indiscriminate rampage, and seem to have liked the experience.'

Her painting, an abstract inspired by Chinese imagery, was beyond repair.

She said that the gallery was a non-profit venture, but that it had taken a pounds 20 administrative fee. Artists were invited to submit slides of their work, from which a panel of adjudicators made a selection and invited artists to show.

A spokesman at the centre said: 'We are keeping the exhibition open. We are not going to get intimidated.'

The incident will probably be added to the long list of apparently mindless attacks on art in public galleries. Last August, two eight-year-old boys caused tens of thousands of pounds damage at the Williamson Art Gallery and Museum in Birkenhead, Merseyside. Even masterpieces are vulnerable: in 1991, a gunman blasted a hole in the protective glass of the Leonardo Cartoon at the National Gallery.

(Photograph omitted)