Gairloch artist's work near Inverewe Gardens vandalised

image captionSome of the 200 houses in Lynn Bennett-Mackenzie's art project

An artist's work in what the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) describes as one of the most beautiful places in the country has been vandalised.

Lynn Bennett-Mackenzie had the trust's permission to place 200 small wood houses in 19 locations along a woodland trail next to Inverewe Gardens.

She said a large part of her work in Wester Ross had been removed and bags of dog waste found among trees nearby.

NTS said vandalism was "virtually unknown" in the area.

Gairloch-based Bennett-Mackenzie regularly walks the Pinewood Trail near the trust's gardens to check the temporary installation.

She said: "This is a stunning area of the country that has a low rate of crime, and petty vandalism is not common.

"So this is something of a shock and actually a bit upsetting to think that someone has seen fit to remove most of a work that has taken a fair amount of effort to construct and place and that creates a point of interest and pleasure for people out walking."

Bennett-Mackenzie has exhibited her work in Russia and, with Indian Somu Desai, is putting together an international artist residency programme for the north-west Highlands.

She hopes the residency will attract artists from India, Germany, France and Mexico.

'Mindless vandalism'

Bennett-Mackenzie said she was always prepared for criticism of her work, but not vandalism of it.

She said: "I intend to replace the houses that have 'disappeared' and hope that this time the work will manage to remain mainly intact until it is removed in November.

image captionBennett-Mackenzie said critics of her work can leave feedback in a visitor book

"There are visitor books in place in the restaurant and shop at the gardens and you can also comment on my blog if you would like to leave feedback."

Inverewe Gardens were created in 1862 and its plants include species from New Zealand, Chile and South Africa.

It is also believed to be home to the world's most northerly grove of Wollemi Pine, a Jurassic tree thought to have died out two million years ago before being discovered in Australia.

The gardens benefit from the warm currents of the Gulf Stream.

NTS said it had been delighted to facilitate Bennett-Mackenzie's project, which saw the houses installed in March.

A spokeswoman added: "We are very disappointed that in an area where crime of any description is virtually unknown such mindless vandalism has taken place.

"We hope that the artist will not be discouraged as her project is both interesting and good for this small community."

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