A LYMINGTON artist has been reunited with a £3,500 painting which travelled hundreds of miles around the country after being lost on a train in London.
Will Rochfort had been working for almost two years on the artwork, Americana, which was returned to him after an officer from the British Transport Police stepped in to help track it down following an appeal on social media.
Speaking to the A&T, Will explained: “I was working away in my studio at about 4pm when I got a call from one of my clients inviting me to a party in London that night.
“He asked me to bring the painting with me so I dropped everything and jumped on a train at Brockenhurst.”
The train was overcrowded and delayed, and when Will arrived at Waterloo Station he was already late for the art event.
He said: “I dashed off the train and ran through the station. It was only when I was walking down the stairs that I realised I’d left the painting on the parcel shelf of the train.”
Will ran back to the platform and sprinted along the outside of the train frantically looking into the carriages to see if he could spot the painting.
He said: “I saw my painting and I told the guard I needed to get back on to get it, but he said the train doors were already locked and I had to stand there and watch it disappear as the train pulled away.
“I thought, ‘that’s it, I’ll never see it again’ so I just went to the party and accepted it was gone.”
However, on his way home from London, Will launched a Facebook and Instagram search campaign and was overwhelmed by the response from friends and strangers alike.
View this post on Instagram
So tonight I left this painting on a train that was heading out of London. Not ideal. I hope someone finds it and gives it a good home or even better, somehow gets it back to me. Perhaps you guys could share this to hopefully track it down??? #error #lost #lostpainting #southwesttrains #cadillac #classiccars #narrativeart #help #helpneeded #fineart #artoftheday #illustration #mhoilpaints #artistsoninstagram #fineart #artsy #artwork #oiloncanvas #oilpainting @sw_railway
He said: “I got up the next morning and there was a huge reaction to my post – it was shared by a few people who had loads of followers. I had people coming up to me in the street saying they were so sorry to hear about my painting.
“In my head, the painting was gone so I didn’t hold out much hope.”
Eight days after its disappearance, however, an officer from the British Transport Police got in touch to say the painting had been found and was being held at Weymouth Station.
Will later discovered it had travelled more than 300 miles from Waterloo to Bournemouth and back to London, and then on to Weymouth where a guard found it and put it on a shelf in the station offices.
“Usually all lost property goes up to London Waterloo but because they didn’t want it to be damaged they just put it up out of the way on a shelf,” said Will.
“I was genuinely touched by how amazingly kind everyone was in helping me to get the painting back. I’m so pleased to have it back and I’ve now decided to put it on display at Coastal Gallery in Lymington so everyone can see it for themselves.”
Americana was posed with friends and family almost two years ago outside Will’s workshop at Setters Farm in Lymington. He has been working on it for around a year between larger commissions.
For more information on Will’s work visit www.willrochfort.com or visit his Instagram page @willrochfortart