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Romford artist reunited with lost paintings after five years

PUBLISHED: 10:00 25 July 2012

Keith Irvine holding the painting that reminds him of the building behind him. The painting shows a scene in Keith's native South Africa (photo: Melissa Page)

Keith Irvine holding the painting that reminds him of the building behind him. The painting shows a scene in Keith's native South Africa (photo: Melissa Page)

Melissa Page

Finding a stash of lost paintings after five years has put the hue back in a Romford artist’s cheeks.

But you could colour him amazed to discover they’d been sitting in a next door office all along.

Medical equipment engineer Keith Irvine, 60, misplaced the watercolours in June 2007 after taking them into Queen’s Hospital, where he works.

“I brought them in to show the ladies at reception. When I left I must have put them down somewhere,” said Mr Irvine, who travels to Romford from West Dulwich. “The next day I went all the way back to work to try and find them.”

When he had no luck, he drew the conclusion they were gone for good.

But the artworks hadn’t gone far – they had slipped down the side of a desk, where they lay undiscovered until an office refurbishment.

“I couldn’t believe they were sitting for five years between a desk and a wall,” said Mr Irvine. “They’re doing some renovation in the IT department and the builders found this big black folder.

“The lady next door immediately knew I had lost the paintings so she texted me saying she had a present for me.

“I gave her a landscape to say thank you. She’s put it up in her lounge.”

Now he’s found the watercolours Mr Irvine says he is awash with art.

“I was going to use them for exhibitions, but when they were lost I painted a whole lot of new ones,” he said. “Now I’ve got two lots so I’m very pleased.

“They’re too valuable to me to sell. I’m going to do a show with them.”

As well as delight at seeing his work again, Mr Irvine – who paints from memory – said finding the canvases had removed a blot on the Romford landscape.

“There’s a building on the corner of Rom Valley Way that reminds me of one of the paintings,” he explained. “After I lost the painting I used to look away whenever I went past.

“But now I just gaze with longing at the building.”

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