Shoebury seaside sculpture vandalised

A seaside sculpture installed just two years ago has been targeted by vandals.

The “HELLO” sculpture on Shoebury’s east beach has been sprayed with graffiti and now includes the word “bye” along with other drawings.

Originally commissioned by Waterfronts and Estuary 2021 – run by arts organisations England’s Creative Coast and Metal – the sculpture by Katrina Palmer was intended to stay in place for six months as part of the Estuary 2021 festival.

However, it became a permanent eye-catching feature of the beach and greensward.

The sculpture is maintained by Southend Council.

James Courtenay, councillor responsible for community safety and public protection, said: “It’s very disappointing to see this mindless act of vandalism carried out on our East Beach HELLO sculpture. Public art can really change how we experience our public spaces but antisocial behaviour like this can ruin the experience of seeing the sculpture for others.

“As part of their service to the council, our waste partner Veolia will be sending a team out to clean the sculpture on top of their normal daily cleansing routine.”

A spokesman for East Beach Residents’ Association, said: “It’s very disappointing to see the vandalism of any artwork.

“However, we hope that once enforcement patrols are regularly on East Beach, there will be less opportunity for antisocial behaviour.

The large concrete sculpture is based on a sound mirror – also known as an acoustic mirror – which were dotted the English coast as part of the war years pre-radar enemy aircraft early warning system.

The concept was designed to fit in with MoDs history in the area but transforming it from a defence tool to a “message of welcome that faces out towards Europe”.

Katrina Palmer is a London-based an artist best known for her investigations of “sculptural materiality”.

She studied sculpture at Central St Martins and the Royal College of Art, London.

The artist is said to challenge what sculpture can be, often utilising live readings, site specific recordings and constructed environments. Her resulting unsettling installations “examine presence, absence, memory and death”.

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter