FORMER colleagues have paid tribute to an artist who was murdered in a bedroom of a £1.6 million property she was house-sitting for friends.

Valerie Graves, 55, was found dead with significant head and facial injuries at the property in Bosham, West Sussex, on December 30. Police have not arrested anyone in connection with the killing.

Ms Graves had graduated in textile design from Heriot Watt University seven years ago and set up her own crafts studio at Harestanes, near Jedburgh, Roxburghshire.

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She had only moved to West Sussex in the past few months to look after her elderly mother.

Fiona Waldron, Head of the School of Textiles and Design at Heriot Watt University in Galashiels, Selkirkshire, said: "She was a creative person with a wide range of artistic interests and will be much missed."

Douglas Hunter, who also had a studio at Harestanes, said Ms Graves was well liked, popular with her neighbours and a respected member of the artistic community.

"She had won awards for various projects," he said.

Detectives say they are keeping an open mind as to the motive for the murder and have not ruled out the possibility of a break-in. A "large number" of officers are working on the case.