Sherkey Flatts and Javeira Voltson and the mystery of the reappearing pictures.

What a difficult mystery this proved to be!

Mona Lott rang to ask for our assistance. She runs a local coffee shop called Deja Brew next to Bradford University of Art. It is very popular with local students and lecturers and there is a short corridor leading to the toilets where local artists and students can exhibit their paintings for free, a week at the time. This is a great chance for students to show their work and often other customers visiting the coffee shop buy the paintings. However, over the last week, Mona has replaced one particular picture every day only to find that by lunchtime it has reappeared on the wall in exactly the same place. She has closed circuit (CCTV) cameras in the shop but the main camera showing the seating area and corridor to the toilet has stopped working so she cannot see who is replacing the picture. However, she has some footage from the front door camera and she has used this to check who was in the shop each morning. The following people were all in the shop each day the picture reappeared. One of them must be the culprit! The suspects are below

all charactersWe were helped by associate detectives from schools across the region to analyse various sources of evidence to help us solve this tricky mystery.

Full details of the activities can be found here:

The first task involved analysing partial fingerprints to ascertain who had removed the pictures and this proved quite challenging.

We then found some strange coded messages on a social media site where the café has a page. With some careful and painstaking sleuthing using a complex cipher, we were able to decode these messages.

Next, we interviewed each of the suspects in depth and then cross-referenced their comments against all the other clues we had to see who was telling the truth.

Finally, we managed to find some QRcodes on the back of the pictures that linked through to a variety of websites where we able to identify the main culprit.

The associate detectives then provided a scenario to explain who and why the crime was committed, there were some highly original and entertaining solutions but Javeira and I both agreed that the solution below from detective Harry Pain (Thackley Primary School) was the most accurate. Congratulations to them. Their solution is below.

Our two suspects are Art Dekko and Aisha Singh; we have evidence to prove this as follows.

How did they do it?

Is simple really, because Aisha works there she can easily access the corridor every day without it looking suspicious, therefore she could easily change the painting and put the other painting down in the basement. Furthermore the reason the security camera wasn’t working was because she will have done something to make it not work because she can easily access it. Art will have done it by getting Aisha to distract the café and Mona while he sneaked off to the toilet. Her fingerprint is on the painting which gives some physical evidence. They used the coded messages to communicate via Friend World so that they could avoid being detected, and to make plans for the next time either one of them had to replace the picture. Art used QR codes to put a ‘tag’ on his work because he thought no-one would realise they gave away his identity…

Why did they work together?

For starters Aisha thinks that Art Dekko is a ‘Brilliant artist’ and that he should get more credit for his work. Secondly, Art is Aisha’s lecturer and he can be a bit jealous at times so he might have wanted to work with her to get some tips. He felt his work needed to be shown in public more so that he could get more sales of his work – he knew that Aisha admired him and would have persuaded him to work with him to do this.

It would perhaps have given him an opportunity to make a connection with her father, a rich art collector, who may have bought one of his paintings eventually – especially if he could persuade Aisha to show him. And who knows – being the owner of the café ‘Deja Brew’, perhaps he would have even come to the café and seen it – and wanted to buy some artwork from him.

How do we know it’s definitely them?

First of many points, the QR Codes are all things to do with France/Paris and Art Dekko is from Paris. Furthermore to the previous point the letters we found from the QR codes spelt out an anagram of Art Dekko. Further to this conclusion on the painting that kept reappearing there was two words at the bottom of it, they were: L’artiste Supreme which is French for ‘best artist’, also his picture on friend’s world is a baguette which is French bread. Finally, the style of artwork matches his ‘Child-like’ style. On to Aisha; we believe she is ‘Art Girl’ on Friend World, as she is an art student herself. Secondly she hates Mona because she is rude and bossy, plus she had one fingerprint match. Working there gives her ample opportunity to turn off the CCTV and replace the pictures.

Every piece of evidence proves that Art and Aisha were the two culprits.

Paul Scott

Curriculum Innovation manager working strategically with local, regional and national partners ensuring the service’s provision continually evolves to meet the needs of schools, the local community and businesses.

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