Published: 16:39, 19 July 2021
| Updated: 19:01, 19 July 2021
A public artwork display has been vandalised and parts of it stolen just hours after being installed in a town centre.
The Fabric of Ashford project, orchestrated by the LoveAshford team, is prompting the town's sewing community to create vibrant pieces to be attached to the high street bandstand.
Launching on Sunday morning, the collection had already seen a lot of support, including designs created by children at a workshop on Saturday.
However, within 24 hours many of its pieces had either been cut up or stolen.
A post published on the Facebook page of Made in Ashford, a community enterprise key in the project's creation, reads: "Our beautiful community bunting from the fabric of Ashford project we started on Saturday has been cut and stolen.
"Wonderful flags made by mainly children in our community sewn onto colourful bunting have been vandalised. The fabric was even donated by the community. A very sad start to the day.
"If you find a piece of bunting please get in touch. We would love to put the artwork from our community back up in our town centre.
"I will be sewing some more today and hopefully replace what has been taken but I can't replace the community artwork flags."
An effort to revive the Fabric of Ashford work is under way, with people asked to contact the shop if they would like to donate fabric to the cause or get involved with its creation.
Speaking to KentOnline's sister paper the Kentish Express, Made in Ashford's founder Melissa Dawkins said: "I found it this morning when I came into town and I was completely shocked.
"There's about three metres missing and while we can replace and remake the bunting, the community-made artwork might be gone forever.
"What makes it worse is that during Saturday's workshop, you could see just how much emotion was being put into the pieces.
"People were talking about their experiences in Covid and their hopes for the future."
Meanwhile Casey Brett of Branch and Brush, who is working closely with Made in Ashford on the project, is hoping the damage might prompt more participation from the public.
She said: "It's just really sad, it's literally been up for less than a day.
"I think that off the back of this incident, it could bring the community together and make it even stronger. It might spur more people into wanting to engage in what we're doing with The Fabric of Ashford."
Created in partnership with London-based event company Emergency Exit Arts, The Fabric of Ashford is running until August and will see handmade designs brought together to form a tribute to those lost during Covid, and those who have worked hard to help the country.
Also included among the designs are messages of hope, which the organisers believe are important to brighten people's days as they visit the high street.
In place until early autumn, the artwork hopes to provide a screenshot of life in Ashford during the pandemic that will be retained for future viewing.
As part of the project, sewing workshops are being held to add to the colourful creations already making up The Fabric of Ashford.
One will be held in Victoria Park from 1pm to 4pm on Saturday, July 31, followed by one on the same day at Elwick Place from 5pm to 8pm.
This schedule of times and locations will be repeated when workshops take place on Saturday, August 14.