A SECURITY firm has been brought in to protect works of art at an exhibition which was targeted by thieves last year.

Despite the inaugural event being targeted by thieves, organisers say this year’s Southern Nature Art Exhibition will once again feature scores of artists, making it one of the biggest events of its kind in Europe.

Around £15,000 worth of works of art were stolen from the exhibition at Rookesbury Park near Wickham just as it was due to open to the public last year.

Organisers of the popular exhibition have this year employed a private security firm for the duration of the show which begins next month.

As previously reported eleven paintings and nine sculptures were stolen from Rookesbury Park School in Wickham during a break-in between August 26 and 27.

Many of the pieces of art were the work of local artists but some of the stolen pieces had been contributed from overseas artists.

It is not thought that any of the art has since been recovered.

Not only has security been tightened this year but more money has been invested in improving the exhibition area whilst the event has also been widened to include digital photographer.

As a result some 70 artists are contributing to this years event.

Committee member Debbie Knight said: “It is a testament to the spirit of all those artsis who contributed and particulalry those who liost their work who will be returning again this year.”

Co-ordinator Caroline Pinnells added that the event had also been expanded.

She added: “We are delighted to be welcoming back so many artists and expanding what we offer.

“Along with the artwork we also have an art market where artists can chat about their work and live demos going on throughout the event.

“This year we have improved the exhibition boards and also introduced some comfortable seating so that visitors can take more time to enjoy the works of art on display.”

The Southern Nature Art Exhibition at Rookesbury Events, Southwick Road, Wickham, runs from September 9 to 11 from 10am to 5pm and is free.

For more information and to find out more contact southernnatureart.com