Saturday, March 05, 2011

Such errors are rare... yeah right

Poynton Tce mural before Council painted over it

Vankansan bar owner John Brunton by the site of former mural. Photo: Jason Oxenham

Contractors paint over mural. From the front page of the Auckland City Harbour News.

This same story also featured in The Central Leader, but with one additional line of text at the end of the story. We'll get to that in a minute. Some excerpts from the article...

"When is graffiti art?

It's a question the Auckland Council struggled to answer after its contractors painted over a popular mural that was in place for more than a decade on Poynton Tce, near Karangahape Rd.
The mural was on the side of the Vansankan karaoke bar and was developed by artists over the years.

Bar owner John Brunton was shocked to find it gone early last week even though it had his and the building owner's permission to be there.

"It was a little bit like the graffiti gestapo turned up. It was painted over during the day and the bar opens at 9pm," he says.

"We've had no communication with the council. It's amazing they can waste so much money painting over it and then have to paint it again."

The council's website says graffiti art, or bombing, is permitted if the building's owners give consent.

Mr Brunton says the mural was a popular spot for people to visit. "Over the last 12 months that we've owned the business, I've seen people standing outside there numerous times getting their photos taken....

... The K Rd Business Association has also been negatively affected after printing about 10,000 pamphlets highlighting art in the area with the mural on the front cover. The pamphlets were to be handed out during the Rugby World Cup.

"It's really obvious if the business association makes it the front page, the community feels quite strongly about it," precinct manager Barbara Holloway says. "I'm not sure what was going on."

... Council manager for community development and partnerships Kevin Marriott says painting over the mural was a genuine mistake. "The council is taking full responsibility to rectify the situation and install a new artwork as soon as possible," he says. "Council contractors mistakenly painted over this mural after a request by an Auckland Council anti-graffiti volunteer," Mr Marriott says.

[and the closing sentence that made the Central Leader but not The Harbour News?]

"Mr Marriott says such errors are rare and the council's partnership with volunteers working on graffiti removal programme has been successful."

Rare? Ah, no. Here's a few examples. I heard of another one today  - a few years back, when Michael Lett Gallery was on the corner of Krd and Edinburgh st, they had an exhibition where the artist had work inside the a gallery, and also outside, on the wall. The artist had painted a piece that resembled a graffiti tag in his own style, and which was part of the exhibition, and was painted with permission of the owner. The Council painted it out.

The Council spends $5-6 million a year on graffiti eradication. Education would seem a better long-term option, surely. The Council's report on graffiti vandalism (see pdf at bottom of link) for the Community Safety Forum is 28 pages long, and devotes a mere 3 pages to education and prevention - it also notes that initiatives targeted at youth, while they are worth pursuing, "... are time consuming, requiring appropriate superivision and resourcing". In other words, too expensive, compared to hiring painting contractors. The rest of the report focuses on actions that essentially criminalise young people.

Also some education of Council's own staff on what is tagging and what is art would be useful. Here's an example why this might be cost effective.

A mate of mine, Greg, told me this story via Facebook.

"I was once signwriting a white ply hoarding down the bottom of town, y'know, old-school brush, stick, can of paint, middle of the day, wearing white overalls, all properly coned off with warning tape etc, when a council graffiti officer told me I might as well stop now cos she had already called one of the crews and they would be down to paint it out shortly.  I just laughed in her face and told her she better make some calls. I was painting a huge Westpac logo at the time."


Anonymous said...

Poynton Tce runs off Pitt Street and is the the little back street that runs by the fire station to the back of St Kevin Arcade.

Manuel said...

Maybe Mayor Len Brown prefers to have drunken rugby fans pissing on walls instead. Bad form by the council.