A WORK of art that was a tribute to the men who died making steel on Teesside has been vandalised.

Artist and former steelman Tony Charles said it had taken a year to create the exhibition, which was a memorial to steelworkers.

Vandals caused £2,000 worth of damage to the display at the Arc, in Stockton, yesterday lunchtime.

Police are investigating the incident.

The exhibition includes images of workers who died and friends of the artist.

Others picture were given to him by families of men he met in his research.

The pictures were rusted on to steel wool shrouds in a technique invented by Mr Charles.

The artist has vowed not to be beaten by the vandals and plans to create new shrouds and open the exhibition again across Teesside.

He said: "I just couldn't believe it. It was always quite a sombre exhibition and it's just too sad now.

"Some of these men were my personal friends. One died of asbestosis another of emphysema and another man fell off a bridge.

"There were others who were killed in other ways, including one crushed by a locomotion.

"There are lots of memorials to people who die in wars and things like that but I wanted to do something for people who died just at work. It's so sad that some vandals can just come along and do this to it."

Anne Daley, marketing director at the Arc, said that the police had been informed and the culprits had been caught on CCTV.

"This is the first time we've had anything like this and everyone is upset," she said.

Dave Allinson, curator of art workspace at the Arc, said: "I just hope that this won't dissuade other artists from coming here. It has taken so much to find places where art can be shown."

The exhibition will remain open today.