A local artist says he is ‘gutted’ after nine of his animal sculptures were stolen from Darts Farm on Sunday night (July 7).

The carvings of animal figures and heads had only just been put in place along a public walking trail when someone took a chainsaw to them, cutting them off their plinths and making off with the sculptures.

The sculptor, Brendan Rawlings of Zen Wood Designs, who lives in nearby Clyst St Mary, said the thieves had destroyed ‘months of work’.

(Image: Brendan Rawlings/Instagram)

On Monday he posted photos of the carvings on Instagram, along with a video in which he said: “I’m gutted – it’s difficult enough to make a living as a sculptor without having all your hard work being chopped off, so I wanted to ask people to share the post and see if we can unearth any of them locally or further afield.”

Brendan told the Journal: “I had a phone call this morning from one of the fishermen on the lake, he’d found one of the bases that the sculptured heads were attached to, and it had my phone number on it.

“I thought it was a wind-up at first, but it transpired that it wasn’t, they’d all been chopped off and taken, so Dart’s Farm have taken all the plinths away, just leaving the sawdust at the bottom.”

He explained that his works had been unusual in that each plinth and animal carving was made from a single piece of wood, rather than being made separately and mounted. He said: “The fact that they’ve chopped it off just negates all that hard work, they’ve defaced it as well as stolen it.”

Brendan had installed the sculptures just two days earlier, soon after returning from exhibiting them at the Green Crafts field at Glastonbury Festival. He said: “They survived 250,000 people brushing against them for a week at Glastonbury, but they didn’t survive two days at Darts Farm.”

A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “Police are investigating the theft of a number of sculptures from Darts Farm Shopping Village near Exeter between Sunday 7 July and Monday 8 July. 

“The sculptures had been situated along the walking trail area and officers are now turning to the public for help.

“Anybody with information is asked to contact Devon and Cornwall Police by calling 101 or visiting our website, quoting reference 50240168225.”