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Last Updated: Friday, 6 July 2007, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Art project scarecrows vandalised
Broken scarecrow figure
The scarecrows were clothed with donations from charity shops
More than 100 scarecrows which were overlooking a road in Kent as part of a "wacky public art installation" have been destroyed by vandals.

The clothed figures were erected on wooden crosses at Fort Amherst, Dock Road, Chatham, in May.

They are based on the so-called Silent People - 1,000 scarecrows which have stood in northern Finland since 1994.

"The figures in Chatham haven't lasted six weeks," said Paivi Seppala, visual arts officer at Medway Council.

The 130 Hei People in Chatham were among more than 600 being installed across north Kent, the other locations being Dartford, Swale and Shorne, near Gravesend.

Finnish artist Reijo Kela allowed the project as "a social experiment for him to see how they [the scarecrows] would be treated in the UK", Ms Seppala said.

Scarecrow figures
The scarecrows were much healthier before Wednesday night

"So it's very unfortunate that these visitors who came for the first time out of the borders of Finland have been greeted this way in Chatham."

Ms Seppala said the vandals, who struck on Wednesday night, were obviously "determined to do damage".

Artist Wendy Daws, who worked on installing the scarecrows, said: "Some of them have been karate kicked in half.

"We're devastated, it looks like a battlefield up there.

"We've all worked very hard, there's been a team of volunteers and we spent two days building the scarecrows and a whole weekend digging up turf for their hair."

Twenty of the figures on the A226 Shorne Road disappeared recently, with three of them later reappearing on a nearby roundabout.


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