Colleagues and neighbours have paid tribute to Borders artist Valerie Graves, whose death in Sussex is the subject of a police murder inquiry.
Detectives from Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team launched their inquiry after Ms Graves, aged 55, was found dead in a house in Smugglers Lane, Bosham, on Monday, December 30.
Ms Graves was house sitting at the luxury Sussex property with her sister, their elderly mother and her sister’s partner, over the Christmas period, while the owner was away on holiday.
She was found dead in a ground-floor bedroom by a member of her family. A post mortem revealed she died from significant head and facial injuries.
Ms Graves, who graduated from Heriot-Watt University’s Galashiels campus in 2007, had previously lived at Maxton and had run a craft workshop at Harestanes, near Jedburgh.
Detective Superintendent Nick May said officers were keeping an open mind as to the motive for the suspected killing.
“But we are looking at different lines of enquiry including that this was someone who knew Valerie or someone unconnected to her,” he said.
And, contacted by The Southern yesterday, a spokesperson for Sussex Police told us: “There is no update at the moment.
“The investigation is continuing and we have a large team of detectives working on the case.”
The dead woman’s son, Tim Wood, and daughter, Jemima Harrison, have also appealed for information to help the police investigation.
“She was a free spirit who enjoyed her life and was a talented artist. She had lived in Scotland for about 10 years, a place she loved and which inspired her passion for art,” they said.
“She had moved back to Sussex to look after her mum as family was important to her.
“This has been devastating for the family and has come as a complete shock.”
Fiona Waldron, Head of the School of Textiles and Design at Heriot-Watt University’s campus in Galashiels, said staff were very sorry to hear of Ms Graves’ death, especially in such tragic circumstances.
“Valerie came to the School of Textiles and Design as a mature student with a background in weaving,” she told The Southern.
“However, following an exchange visit to Finland as part of her course, she developed an interest in felted materials, a strong Finnish tradition, and incorporated that in her successful degree course as well as later, when she set up a studio locally specialising in fashion and ornamental felted textiles.
“She was a very creative person, with a wide range of artistic interests, and she will be much missed.”
Douglas Hunter also has a studio at Harestanes and said Ms Graves was an individualist.
“Valerie was an independent type of person and was well liked, popular with her other neighbours and a respected member of the artistic community here at Harestanes,” he told The Southern this week.
“She was not afraid to try new ideas in her work and had won awards for various projects. It’s very sad.”