Henry Moore’s famous sculpture, Reclining Figure (pictured) , is the latest art masterpiece to have been half-inched. In the past century art thieves have swiped many notable works of art (for hundreds of years, in fact, if you count in the Elgin Marbles). They include da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Munch’s The Scream and Turner’s Shade and Darkness. And it is not uncommon for the media to approach such thefts as if they were of national importance, the art thieves guilty of treason. The theft of some works of art , however, is not reported in the mass media and neither are they ever recovered. One such work of art was entitled Viking in Mosaic.
Viking in Mosaic was stolen in 1971. Its theft was not investigated by the police and it was never reported in the press. Why? Because it was created by me when I was 11 years old. Yup, me! The work was hanging on my 4th form class wall as ‘painting of the month’ when the ageing, red-brick prefab block of St Aloysius RC Primary was burgled one night.
The burglars never got much – they never ever did when they burgled the prefab block, which was about every other week – but amongst their haul this time was my mosaic Viking picture that I had spent many an art lesson on. It was brill! I was a canny artist in those days and had put a lot of work into this piece. The Viking was made from a dozen different materials (felt, scrap pieces of linen, string, fur) and he had a spear made from a drinking straw with a tip made from a silver milk bottle top, and a shield made from corrugated cardboard.
But it was most definitely stolen, I shit you not. Whether it was stolen to order by some jealous 3rd former who had too much pocket money and miffed that I had won that year's school Easter Egg Competition (I was a god wee artist back then), or was nicked by opportunists who saw the work as an investment, or maybe by thieves who just needed the fucking straw for the cartons of juice they also nicked, I will never know. And it was never ever found.
And was I bothered? Was I heckers!! They had actually stolen my art! Mine! I was chuffed as hell that someone had nicked it. I wanted their bloody autograph! Likewise, as far as I am bothered anyone who has the balls to have a got at something that weighs over 2 tons can keep it. Nicking something that big (10’ by 8’) is an art in itself and the thieves have certainly drawn more attention swiping it than Moore ever got creating it, which is more than I can say for Viking in Mosaic. Moore, looking down from artist’s heaven, should likewise be chuffed.