|Poynton Terrace wall, Tuesday June 6, 105 days after being painted out by Auckland Council|
When Mayor Len Brown took office on November 1st last year, he decided to talk big. He came up with 100 projects in 100 days, aiming to show how he planned to get stuck in to Auckland's issues. It was a bold plan, and it worked, by and large. One of those items was to launch an anti-tagging initiative.
On Thursday February 24, Len Brown and the Auckland Council painted over an art mural in Poynton Terrace in the CBD without permission. This wall had been a regular painting spot for artist Elliot O'Donnell aka Askew, for ten years. He'd worked hard to develop a good relationship with the building owners, tenants and neighbours. Len Brown and his Council destroyed a successful community artwork in an afternoon. Read more about what happened here.
Brown fronted up and admitted that it had been a mistake, but never explained why a Council anti-graffiti volunteer had managed to get this wall painted out.
Brown appeared on TVNZ7's Media 7 on 17 March (watch it here) and was asked three times to explain why Council's graffiti prevention officer Rob Sheilds had approached the building owner to offer creative advice and a list of artists for the replacement mural (well outside his job description) - Brown dodged the question, instead talking about wanting to make sure Council followed due process, and that ultimately it was the owners decision about what goes on their wall.
Brown said he would sort this out and make it right, but 100 days later, this wall is still grey.
I have been told that Council is consulting with interested parties, which could take months, or years. Meanwhile, Askew has offered to repaint the wall for FREE. What's the hold up, Mr Mayor?
ADDED June 29: 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 The EOI document says "...the building owner may give preference to a design with a historical theme... The design should not incorporate elements that could be mistaken for vandalism... The building owner asks that the mural is not signed..."