Art school pays tribute to ex-student and 'dear friend' Claire Knights found dead

Claire Knights, 54, was reported a high-risk missing person on Wednesday 23 August. Credit: Kent Police

An art school has paid tribute to former student and "dear friend" Claire Knights, who was found dead in Birchington, Kent.

The 54 year old, from Upstreet, near Canterbury, was reported a high-risk missing person on Wednesday 23 August.

A body was found two days later, which was later confirmed to be that of Ms Knights.

Detectives from the Serious Crime Directorate are now conducting a murder inquiry.

The Margate School described Ms Knights as an "outstanding and exceptional artist whose work reflected her complex, loving nature".

Ms Knights joined the school in 2019 to study a Masters in European fine art.

Uwe Derksen, director of The Margate School said: "Claire participated in events and workshops outside of her MA studies and was often a key contributor in thought and action.

"I recall that she created artwork of the local coastline to Make the Wave action at the School, part of a national creative coastal campaign to highlight rising seas ahead of the G7 summit in 2017, the artwork took the form of large banners that were displayed on the outside of the building."

Claire Knights joined The Margate School in 2019 to study a Masters in European fine art. Credit: Uwe Derksen/The Margate School

In a statement on its website, The Margate School said: "Our thoughts and condolences go out to Claire’s family.

"Her presence will be sorely missed, she was a frequent visitor to exhibitions and events at TMS with her partner, and she formed strong bonds with her fellow students and friends at the school.

"Memories of her and with her, including the trip to Normandy before lockdown, will be held fondly."

It is believed Ms Knights had been walking her white and brown spaniel, called Zebulon, from Upstreet to the Minnis Bay area of Birchington, on the day she went missing.

At the inquest opening on Monday 4 September, it was revealed that Ms Knights was believed to have died from blunt force injury and drowning.

Coroner Catherine Wood said Ms Knights was found face down by her family, between St Nicholas at Wade and Minnis Bay, while they were carrying out searches for her on Friday August 25.

Ms Wood confirmed the initial cause of death given, adding that Ms Knights' death was "violent or unnatural" and that further investigations are taking place.

Ms Wood suspended the inquest as the criminal inquiry continues.