Once, on a crossroads in the middle of the Isle of Wight sat a rather anomalous leyland cypress tree. Some years ago for some reason, be it stormy weather or vehicle impact, it fell down, was mostly removed, and left a substantial stump. The stump sat on one of the most prominent verges on the Island, and little if anything was thought of it – certainly not by its owners, the Isle of Wight Council. This was the situation in Arreton Cross until summer 2008, when a combination of factors led to a remarkable transformation of the treestump and the surrounding area of grassland and scrub. The Isle of Wight Council and the local Arreton Parish Council both agreed that something needed to be done to transform the dismal-looking verge. To cut a (very) long story short, the IW Council employed local charity the Island 2000 Trust to work with volunteers from Arreton to improve the site. Lots of work was done, including carving the treestump into a splendid proud hare alongside two amorous magpies, entitled “Good Omen”.
Island 2000 Trust director Ian Boyd said at the time:
[The sculptor, Paul Sivell,] has done a fantastic job. I can’t believe he has managed to get so much out of so little material. We are just hoping the sculpture is left for everyone to enjoy because other projects have suffered from theft and vandalism.
Sadly, this weekend Ian’s fears were realised. The perky hare did not even survive to see the first anniversary of his creation.
The tell-tale signs of a chainsaw can be seen where the hare sculpture has been cruelly severed from the magpies. It’s not even an accident or casual vandalism – this was organised theft. I went out as soon as I heard, to inspect the site. Not that there was much to be done – he’s gone, and that’s the way it is. A very upsetting development. Of course, we’ll tell the police, and see if anyone spots an impressive wooden hare. Let’s hope so, as I am sure if he returns we’ll be able to put him back in place. Anyway, as this is one of the busiest roads on the Island, surely somebody driving by saw somebody working with a chainsaw right by the main Arreton Cross junction?
Watch this space – if the hare returns, he’ll feature right here.