The sculpture, a plastic bottle of water full of melted ice from the Antarctic, was intended to be a telling comment on the dangers of global warming. But one light-fingered, and presumably thirsty, visitor to the exhibition may have missed the point. Rather than musing on the hazards that will be created if the icecaps melt, the visitor is believed to have drunk the piece.
Police have been called in to investigate the mystery of the missing water bottle, which vanished from the Way With Words literary festival at Dartington Hall in south Devon. They are not sure if the thief knew the water was part of a sculpture and drank it as a joke or if he mistook it for an ordinary bottle of water. Officers also admit it is possible that another member of staff thought the piece was just a discarded bottle and threw it away.
The sculpture was the creation of the American-born artist and writer Wayne Hill. He brought back two litres of melt water from the west Antarctic and designed a bottle to hold it. A label on the bottle described where the water was from and included the words: "Weapon of Mass Destruction", because of the devastation melting ice caps could create.
The piece was displayed in its own room at the literary festival earlier this month. Halfway through the festival it was noticed that it had gone. Hill said: "It was designed to look like an ordinary object, like an ordinary bottle of water, but it was clearly marked out as an exhibit."If you put something in a frame or on a plinth people usually recognise it's a piece of art and treat it with respect." Hill said he was considering creating another identical piece.
A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police said: "We are looking at the possibility someone drank the water without knowing it was a piece of art. Or it could have been thrown away by a member of staff who didn't recognise what it was."
from the guardian