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Barman's timely sketch could help police trace artwork vandals

PUBLISHED: 09:24 20 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:44 20 March 2019

The sketches of the suspects drawn by a Playhouse barman. Photo: Gawain Godwin

The sketches of the suspects drawn by a Playhouse barman. Photo: Gawain Godwin

Archant

The artistic talents of a city barman are being used to trace three men suspected of vandalising a painting at Norwich Playhouse.

Gawain Godwin, whose artwork was vandalised at the Playhouse Norwich. Photo: Andi Sapey PhotographyGawain Godwin, whose artwork was vandalised at the Playhouse Norwich. Photo: Andi Sapey Photography

Gawain Godwin’s three-metre wide canvas was ripped and burnt hours after the launch of his solo exhibition at the St George’s Street venue on Sunday, March 10.

While the vandals were not caught in the act, an observant barman managed to draw the faces of three men who “scuttled off” as staff came in to see what was going on.

Norfolk police has now confirmed it received the sketch and will be using it along with CCTV footage to try to identify the suspects.

The barman described one of the men as having a “pretty average rock dude look”, while another is said to have wooden 
ear plugs and is “slightly boss-eyed”.

Gawain Godwin's ripped artwork at the Norwich Playhouse. Photo: Gawain GodwinGawain Godwin's ripped artwork at the Norwich Playhouse. Photo: Gawain Godwin

He described the third as having quite thick blonde hair with “slightly dreary blue eyes”.

Due to the potential accuracy of the sketches this newspaper has partially obscured the images.

Mr Godwin, 39, said the incident happened shortly after he left the Playhouse at 9.30pm, having launched his exhibition entitled “Also of dogs and ferns”.

He received a phone call on Monday morning to say one of his pieces – priced at £960 – had been damaged.

Gawain Godwin's ripped artwork at the Norwich Playhouse. Photo: Gawain GodwinGawain Godwin's ripped artwork at the Norwich Playhouse. Photo: Gawain Godwin

Mr Godwin, who lives in the Pottergate area, said: “Staff said there were a group of people that were quite rowdy and as they were collecting glasses they detected a burning smell.

“They found one painting had been burned through and the canvas had been ripped quite badly.”

He said the barman’s sketch was of the people he had seen in the room “who scuttled off” when staff came in.

“It was a real shame because it was a lot of work putting the show together,” Mr Godwin said.

Gawain Godwin's exhibition at the Norwich Playhouse. Photo: Gawain GodwinGawain Godwin's exhibition at the Norwich Playhouse. Photo: Gawain Godwin

Norfolk police confirmed officers were called to the Playhouse at 11.45pm to reports three men had attempted to set fire to an oil painting.

Officers were provided with a sketch of the suspects and will be looking at CCTV footage, the spokesman said.

A Playhouse spokesperson said: “A piece of artwork was damaged at the Playhouse. The police have been informed and are investigating the matter.”

Anyone with information should call Norfolk police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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