Nova Scotia artist believes wire sculptures were stolen from her property for copper

·3 min read

LITTLE HARBOUR, N.S. — A renowned Nova Scotia artist says she’s been “blindsided” by the theft of five life-sized sculptures she believes were stolen from her property by copper thieves.

Dawn MacNutt said she discovered Thursday that the works which had been on display outside her studio and home in rural Little Harbour, N.S., were gone.

MacNutt said four of the woven copper wire figures had been on the deck of the studio, while the fifth had been displayed in a nearby tree.

“They were meant to take weaving outdoors. That’s been part of my work,” the artist said in an interview. “Basically I’ve just left them out as a matter of trust over the last 40 years wherever I lived.”

MacNutt said the works — which have been on display on her Pictou County property for 16 years — are worth thousands of dollars, with one valued at around $4,000.

“They are life-sized figures that are woven … then they are electroplated to give them some strength,” she said. “They are like a copper roof, they turn green when it’s dry and when it’s wet they look dark.”

MacNutt said she has filed a report with police and even paid a visit to the local recycling depot to ask them to be on the lookout for the art pieces. Her daughter Laura MacNutt has also posted on social media to help bring attention to the theft.

MacNutt said she’s convinced the sculptures were taken because of what they are made of, rather than by some fan of her art.

“If they were going to take something, those wouldn’t be the pieces,” she said. “I’m very confident that it was for the copper. It’s not somebody that’s collecting art.”

Copper wire and parts have long been a favourite target of thieves across North America because of the price they can fetch from scrap metal dealers. The metal is often cut and stripped from utility poles, electrical substations, homes and construction sites.

MacNutt said she had hoped to display at least one of the pieces during a retrospective show of her work planned for the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery in Halifax in June 2024.

But it’s the sentimental value attached to the pieces rather than their monetary value that has left her feeling sad over the incident.

“Some of the works that were stolen were shown at Mount Saint Vincent in 1979, my first solo exhibition,” she said.

According to her website, MacNutt’s work is inspired by her “lifelong love of the human condition” and what she describes as “the beauty of human frailty.”

Inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts in 2008, MacNutt is a Master Artisan who also served as a national director on the Canadian Craft Council from 1983-1987.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2023.

- By Keith Doucette in Halifax

The Canadian Press