Award-winning work stolen from hospital

‘Gentle’ landscape: Artist Julia King’s oil on canvas Ohiwa Dunes.
‘Gentle’ landscape: Artist Julia King’s oil on canvas Ohiwa Dunes.

An award-winning painting destined for the morgue waiting-room has disappeared from Waikato Hospital.

The landscape oil on canvas entitled Ohiwa Dunes, by Julia King, won the prestigious Transfusion exhibition in 2010.

The painting was screwed to the wall of the Campbell Johnstone Building and was taken overnight last Tuesday. It was noticed missing the following morning and security guards at the hospital were now reviewing CCTV footage.

King has called the theft "horrible".

"It's horrible that someone decided to steal it from the hospital," she said. "It's a real shame as it was donated via the competition for the hospital's benefit, along with the other artworks.

"Hopefully, the person who took it will have second thoughts and it will be returned."

Art consultant Tim Walker has been working with the Waikato DHB to catalogue its extensive collection of art and select certain works for specific spaces, choosing King's "gentle" landscape for the morgue waiting-room.

"Julia's work is a very gentle landscape and it struck me as very beautifully painted with a sense of gentle wind across landscape, and was an appropriate painting for the space," Mr Walker said.

"It is a great shame that it has been taken."

Although not worth a great deal of money, the painting was nonetheless irreplaceable, he said.

"Its value resides in why it was painted and that a young student gifted it to the hospital to give something back to the patients there.

"I just hope someone has a twinge of conscience and returns it to where it belongs."

An appeal for information was made via the Waikato DHB's staff intranet, but as of last night the painting had not turned up.

Waikato Times