Within the Senior Common Room of the Scott House at Traill college has hung an original Harold Town painting for the past three decades. The 1958-signed painting was inspired by a Shakespearean play and depicts a silhouette of Richard III holding a dagger beneath a cloth pulled over his face and body.
Early last week (week ending March 3) this painting was stolen from the Senior Common Room in Scott House. It had been locked and fastened to the wall using exhibition hardware, which means that whoever took it had to have special tools and had known how it was set-up.
The painting was purchased over 50 years ago while the artist was still alive for several hundred dollars and later restored and reframed for a thousand dollars in the 1990’s. This indicates that the value of the painting is probably at least $5000, although it is now being appraised by the insurance company.
Traill college is a community where people feel safe, welcome and inspired to learn.
“One of the reasons people love Traill so much is because it feels like a comfortable space for them” explains Dr. Michael Eamon, principal of Traill.
“It is so sad when something like this happens, it diminishes from the community and us all”, Dr. Eamon acknowledges the many ways a sense of community can be eroded, such as sexual or physical assaults as no community is immune to that. He recognizes that there are much more serious and tragic things that can happen on Trent campus, and its important to note that they are trying to minimize all crimes that break the community feel at Traill.
Although it is just a painting, it being stolen has had an impact on the students of Traill college. Amino Yusuf, a fourth year English student explains: “I feel disappointed that the space we all share was compromised in this way. The entire dynamic of the Traill space, Scott House in particular, will have to shift in order to accommodate going forward and I can only hope that as a community we’ll find a way to keep our space both safe and, at the same time, welcoming.”
Yusuf says that Traill has been a treasured part of her university experience, “I joined Traill Cabinet this year and it only strengthened my relationship to the college as a whole. Both my studies and my college community meet at Traill and it’s a wonderful place to call home.”
Exploring this magnificent house allows you to leave the real world at the door and enter a realm of possibilities from a different time. It lets you see the world from the perspectives of great Canadian artists. Each piece contributes stories, ideas, and inspiration to students who surround them. Being in the senior common surrounded by magic makes you feel so grateful to have such an inspiring place to learn and work. When something like this happens, and a painting is taken away from this glorious. It is hard not to feel like they stole something bigger than a painting, but the purpose behind the art that is now gone.
In a building filled with art reminding us of different things, the memory is missing. As you walk through you have a taste of worlds much bigger than yours and there lies an empty space where an inspirational piece once was, that is now lost.
The blank wall leaving a sense of incompletion and betrayal in the air as you calmly admire the inspiring pieces. It serves as a reminder the significance each piece of art has on those willing to put aside the stress of school work, and open their minds to worlds bigger than their own. Within each painting lays an opportunity for a unique interpretation of the art, which sparks a thought or idea, that otherwise would not have existed. Each piece of art is a privilege, a reminder of how large the world is, and how lucky we are to have access to so much of it at Traill.
Louise Fish, Director of Risk management at Trent says that security is investigating access control issues, security cameras, and key codes used to enter the Common Room within the few days the robbery could have taken place. They have reported it to the insurance company and have filed a police report. Markets are being monitored if the art resurfaces in an auction or sale. The Senior Common Room is closed for the time being during this investigation.
Dr. Eamon, Louise Fish, and Amino Yusuf have hope that the painting will be returned soon. People are urged to contact Traill college or Campus Security with any information.