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Milton Keynes concrete cows painted to 'save art'

image captionThe cows were transformed into skeletons overnight last week

The son of an artist who created Milton Keynes' replica concrete cows has claimed responsibility for "vandalism" that turned them into skeletons.

Ryan Billings, the son of community artist Bill Billings, said he painted the three cows and three calves last week to "save art" in the town.

The Parks Trust initially condemned the actions but now says the pieces could remain unchanged until the spring.

Police said the incident was being investigated as criminal damage.

Designed by artist Liz Leyh, the cows were made in 1978 as a leaving present from the Milton Keynes Development Corporation - which oversaw the building of the "new town".

Bill Billings' models are replicas - the originals are in the centre:mk shopping centre.

The trust, a charity which owns and maintains them, estimated repairs will cost £2,000.

'Restored them'

image captionBill Billings created the replica cows at Bancroft, in Milton Keynes

Ryan Billings said: "I didn't vandalise them, I simply restored them.

"I literally gave them a new life, they were falling to bits, the paint was flaking off, and they already had tags all over them so I simply went down there and revamped them.

"Ironically, they look more alive than ever."

Bill Billings, who died in 2007, specialised in street art in the town and one of his most famous projects was a concrete dinosaur at Peartree Bridge.

His son said he had been trying "for quite a while" to get his father's works restored officially.

Public support

Taking matters into his own hands, he repainted the dinosaur which was "literally vandalised to bits", before moving onto the Beanhill toadstools and then the cows.

"I can't keep going to meetings and waiting another few months just to go to another meeting and talk about them being painted so I just did it," he said.

"How can it cost £2,000 [to repaint the cows] when I did all three projects for nothing.

"If they give me the materials I will paint them back for free."

Following public support for the cows' new look, the trust has decided that the skeletal forms will "probably" remain until the spring.

Bryony Serginson, from the trust, said it had contacted Mr Billings and asked to talk to him about restoring the cows and other artworks.

"There are other pieces of public art [that need restoration work] as well and, depending on his skills, we might employ him to do others," she said.

More on this story

  • Milton Keynes cows to stay as skeletons for Halloween

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