|After. The Council workers missed the top part of the mural, so came back and painted over it.|
I heard earlier today via Twitter from local artist Askew (Elliot O'Donnell) that the Auckland Council had painted over one of the central city's best graffiti art murals, up on Poynton Terrace, off Pitt St. This mural has been there for a number of years, and has been painted and repainted numerous times by Askew and his crew. It provides some much needed colour in a drab access lane.
Askew says the order to paint over the mural came from Tony Capton but apparently the request came from higher up in the Council. He says even the guys painting it out were astounded. They thought there had been a mistake so they double-checked. This was painted over without permission of the owner or the tenants, both whom are very upset by this, as are many locals in the area.
Askew says "I've had permission for the wall for over 10 years - consistently spoken with the owners and even been paid once or twice for it."
I lived in that area for a while and that mural definitely added something of value to the neighborhood. I even used that mural as a backdrop for this music video... it's in the shots with Sandy Mill singing...
The Council's own website states that "If the graffiti appears to be an artwork ie permission was given for the work to be done, it will not be removed." (source)
I also heard from someone who spoke to some cleaners in town recently who said they've been brought in to clean up for the RWC. Is that what Len Brown aspires for our city to present to the world? Bland grey walls that say nothing about us?
Please email Len Brown and ask him why this was done. It will only take a minute.
Email him on firstname.lastname@example.org
Image one and two from Askews blog. See Mr Rimoni's blog for more shots of the wall.
UDATE: Tues 1 March - Len Brown apologised via Twitter to Askew yesterday. He also replied to me, saying "looks like a genuine mistake by council staff. My office is moving to sort it out". Today the Mayor contacted Askew via Twitter to say "council officers should be in touch with you, business owner & K Rd Ass. with options."
This story was picked by by the New Zealand Herald's Ana Samways, and featured in her column today. A number of commenters below also pointed me to the murals that have been buffed (painted over) by the Council. There are at least three of them in recent times, apparently. One was a mural painted as a tribute to a young couple and their baby, all killed in a car accident when a truck ran into them.
This action at Poynton Terrace now appears to be part of a wider cleanup effort, possibly linked to the Rugby World Cup. The AKT blog reports that efforts are underway to paint out tagging and graffiti from the rail corridor.
Also, listen to BFM's interview with Askew from last Friday here. Askew says he went down to the site as soon as he heard about it and talked with the painters. When they'd gone back and double-checked that there were supposed to paint over this mural, they were told that it was illegal and the landlord had asked for it to be painted over. That simply isn't true.
ADDED June 29, 2011: The Auckland Council has put out a call for expressions of interest from artists to replace the mural. See The Big Idea. The Council's Public Art Team say on their Facebook page that "we'd welcome an EOI from Askew. The bonus is that whomever is awarded the contract will get an artists fee, and materials paid, so won't have to fund it out of their own pocket."
That's not a bonus - that's what Len Brown undertook to do after admitting the Council made a mistake painting out the mural. Askew and friends paid for that mural out of his own pocket for ten years.
ADDED August 23, 2011: The Auckland Council has agreed to let Askew handle the reinstatement of the mural. From Askew's blog, posted earlier today:
"A couple of weeks ago I met with Rob Garret who is Auckland Council’s public arts facilitator and we came to a very amicable agreement – one that is going to enable a positive outcome that will benefit everyone involved and hopefully also benefit many others.
The Council agreed to withdraw their call for submissions for the new mural and have instead agreed to make a settlement with me on behalf of the artists. I was asked to price out a fair figure on par with what we would charge for a similar sized mural work in a commercial situation. I came up with the figure of $10,440.00 which breaks down like this:
Access Equipment: $1,100.00
Artist fees: $5,700.00
This morning we found that the amount of $10,440.00 + GST had been deposited into our account and as promised we put it to some charitable causes – after we paid the GST direct to the Government of course! This is where the money went:
$4,394.00 - Red Cross Christchurch Earthquake Appeal
$4,394.00 – Canterbury SPCA Earthquake Appeal
And in light of the passing of NYC graffiti Legend Case2 last week – we donated the remaining $1,316.00 USD needed to reach their goal of $5,400.00 for his funeral costs.
So that’s the first aspect of this all sorted – what about the art work?
At this stage – we can’t paint the replacement mural at Poynten Tce but in the next couple of weeks I will seek to talk directly with the landlords there and see if we can just return things back to the way it was. We will paint and maintain that site again if possible.
In the mean time, The K’ Road Business Association have come to us with an alternative location, which is the side of 420/Rising Sun etc, the side facing the motorway. In an ideal world we will paint both locations or at the very least just the 420 spot but I have pulled together a fantastic team of local artists to get involved and will make more announcements about the project as it develops. At this stage it will likely be towards the end of the year as everyone involved are over-committed with their own projects for at least the next 2 months..."