An outdoor exhibition in Chesham was vandalised despite a warm reception by Chesham residents.

The exhibition The River Meadow At The Pile of Stones captures the beauty of Chesham and the River Chess area through 20 images taken by professional photographer Matt Writtle.

Mr Writtle was leading a photography walk on June 19 through the Waterside and the Chesham Moor when he was left dismayed after he found parts of the much-loved exhibition vandalised.

He said: “It was when I arrived on the Moor when I noticed them, and my heart sank. I was sickened by it because these are really egregious, horrible.”

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Three of the photos standing on tall wooden legs at the Moor had been “mindlessly” covered in black graffiti, while another one on Moor Road near the railway bridge was also targeted.

Although Mr Writtle didn’t want to give this example 'a platform', however he wanted to let the community know what happened on social media.

Support poured in from residents after his post on OurChesham Facebook group, where one angry resident said: “Try and improve the place for everyone, and, sadly, there’s bound to be [someone] who can’t resist spoiling everything.”

Scores of residents said how much joy the photos have brought to them during their walks.

Bucks Free Press: When the photos were previously vandalised in a similar incident, the owner of local company SignX helped to restore the signs, Mr Writtle said.When the photos were previously vandalised in a similar incident, the owner of local company SignX helped to restore the signs, Mr Writtle said.

Mr Writtle said: “I just felt so much support from everybody in Chesham, they’ve really embraced them.

“The whole idea in the first place was to raise the subject of the river but in a beautiful and inspiring way rather than a condescending and patronising way, where we’re saying ‘look what we’re doing to our town, you should do something about it’.”

Designed to be a temporary exhibition, the photos were first set up in October 2020 after Mr Writtle secured funding for the project. Chesham Town Council then installed the exhibition for free, and Mr Writtle donated the collection to them.

The idea for the photos came from his attraction to River Chess, a precious chalk stream, when he moved to Chesham six years ago.

He said: “When I moved from North London, I kept getting drawn to the river, and thinking ‘I’m really attracted to this river, but I don’t understand why’.

Bucks Free Press: The future of the photo exhibition was unclear. The future of the photo exhibition was unclear.

“And also it feels a bit neglected, so I started looking into it more and more in my own time, and then started researching the history and taking pictures. And then the name, ‘River Meadow and a pile of stones’, is the Old English name for Chesham.

He wanted to focus on chalk streams “because chalk streams are environmentally the coral reefs of United Kingdom, so if the ecosystem of chalk streams started to die away we’d be in big trouble.”

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He got a lot back from the chalk stream experts like the River Chess Association, while the “Town Council were amazing,” he thanked.

Mr Writtle had reported the incident to the police.