International artist Chen Wenling has made a surprise donation to the people of WA, giving them the replacement version of his sculpture Childhood Morning, which was created after the original was damaged and stolen from Cottesloe Beach last year.
Chen flew to Perth today to unveil the iconic red sculpture, which proved a huge hit at last year’s Sculpture by the Sea and provoked public outrage when it was snapped at the legs and stolen by two young men who were playing a drunken prank.
The sculpture was found in an attic in a house in Marmion and the men later pled guilty to the acts and have been paying off $15,000 each – the amount Sculpture by the Sea owed Chen for the $65,000 work.
At the unveiling ceremony, Chen described being “surprised and inspired” by a letter of apology he received from Premier Colin Barnett after the sculpture was damaged and decided to donate its replacement to the people of WA.
He spoke in glowing terms about Perth and its art-lovers and said he had written a letter of forgiveness to the young men involved.
Mr Barnett thanked Chen for his generous gift and confirmed the work would be retained by the Art Gallery of WA, but as yet no decision had been made on whether it would be placed permanently inside or outside the building.