East London street artist Stik has complained of “commercial exploitation” after a community mural he painted in Poland was discovered in pieces and on sale for £10,000 at a West London gallery.
Stik and a group of local children from Gdansk in Poland painted the Children’s Community Mural on a shipping container in 2011.
The public art work went missing from the Polish city in 2014, only to resurface at Lamberty Gallery in Belgravia, where individual pieces of the now dissected mural were found on sale for £10,000.
“I want to see them returned to the community who helped paint them,” Stik told the East End Review.
“My intention was to give a gift to that local area and that is what I agreed with the gallery who commissioned the mural. We agreed it was for educational purposes only and I would like them to remain what they were contracted to be.”
Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art, the Polish gallery that commissioned the 2011 mural, has confirmed it went missing “in circumstances unknown” and that Polish authorities are investigating the disappearance.
Andrew Lamberty, director of Lamberty Gallery, did not respond to a request for comment, but has released a statement attempting to “put the record straight”, stressing that the work was purchased legally.
“Lamberty purchased these containers from a recreation ground beside a canal after viewing them in autumn 2014,” the statement reads.
“We commissioned a Polish agent to find and pay the owners and beneficiaries, who we understand were the Canoe club and the Director of the local school.
“We have recently been contacted by an arts institution called Laznia that was involved with Stik to create the project in 2011. Laznia did not notice that the containers had been removed until Stik contacted them a year later.
“Lamberty legally purchased these works with full documentation. We removed them from a harsh outdoor climate and prepared them for indoor instalment.”
Talking to the East End Review, Stik was tight-lipped over what he could disclose about the case, which is now in the hands of lawyers.
He did reveal, however, that a dialogue has opened between the two galleries.
“I am assisting them but as it stands Lamberty has the pieces and has given no indication that he’s going to return them but we are optimistic,” Stik said, adding that he will not authenticate remains of the art work.
Stik describes himself as “duty bound” to help the people of Gdansk retrieve their mural.
“Local residents have written to me asking what’s happening and I have promised them I will get it back for them,” Stik said.
“I feel a good sense of solidarity with that community. Really this piece has not been stolen from me – it’s not about me – it’s about that community and the artwork that the young people created in 2011.”