Tuesday, June 07, 2011

One hundred days of inaction

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..."


component said...

Yeah still grey no one wants to do something about this super city workers all to nervous I called the arts adviser rob garrett and last i heard he was doing something about it !! But no one really cares that much i wonder if they will care when the world vistors come and say man this area is dull !! Lenny may be looking a bit dull to the voters next time around :(

Sheridan Dickson said...

It's not true that "no one wants to do something about this". I'm doing something about this and Rob Garrett's my manager (he assigned me to this project). Project stakeholders will tell you that I have been actively chasing them to get the sign offs needed to progress this project.

I'm the asset manager for the Public Art team, and have taken over from the Community Safety team originally working with the building owners to reinstate the Poynton Mural. Mayor Len Brown was right in saying that Council needs to follow due process, and that ultimately the building owners decide what goes on their wall. In this case, rather than a reinstate of the original mural, the owners have decided to take the opportunity have an entirely new artwork painted on their wall.

The process for commissioning a new artwork requires a call for Expressions of Interest (EOI) which will also be specifically extended to Elliot O'Donnell (Askew). The next step afer the EOIs are received will be an assessment of submitted concepts by key stakeholders and Council's Manager - Public Art, before the preferred concept is selected.

As the approval process for the EOI document is nearing completion, I expect to be able to publish the call out on The Big Idea website and our Facebook page next week. Under the current project plan, Council anticipates the new mural will be to be completed within the next three months (to allow for artist commitments and bad weather).

A note also - commissioning murals is not outside of the job description of Council graffiti prevention officers - many murals in Auckland are commissioned and funded by the Community Safety team as part of Council's urban safety initiatives (in addition to many other activities, such as street lighting, public activies, beautification etc).

If you have any further questions, please contact me in person, via your blog, or via our Public Art in Auckland facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PublicArtAKL

Chanel said...

Put Askew and the likes back to it please. I have to live with the murals in Newmarket, and they're enough to make me want to avert my eyes in disgrace... Please no more torture.

Joe said...

Dear Sheridan Dickson,

All you have done is explain all of the red tape and procedures, yet you are avoiding the original issue here. The council ILLEGALLY removed the mural from the wall without anyone's permission.

I find it incredibly disturbing that the council has not been punished for this. Who governs the council and punished the council workers responsible for giving the direction to have this particular wall painted grey?

It doesn't surprise me that the owners want to take the advice of the council, this is fine by me, but please do not allow something as disgusting and ugly as the Newmarket murals to be used.

Where's the common sense in this situation? The only ones who have shown any common sense whatsoever are the artists themselves like Askew, and it's unfortunate that they're the ones who are suffering at the expense of the council.

If the council did their job properly in the first place, this terrible course of events wouldn't have happened. [sarcasm] Well done [/sarcasm]

Peter said...

Thanks for the comments.

Sheridan - I appreciate you taking the time to respond, thanks. I would like you to answer the unresolved questions around the painting out of this mural, such as why Rob Shields got involved.

You state that "in this case, rather than a reinstate of the original mural, the owners have decided to take the opportunity have an entirely new artwork painted on their wall." The owners decided to do this at the suggestion of Rob Shields. If your Council staff hadnt interfered, Askew would've have been able to reinstate the mural.

And yes, "Mayor Len Brown was right in saying that Council needs to follow due process, and that ultimately the building owners decide what goes on their wall" but he said this in response to being asked why Rob Shield had got involved with the replacement mural. He used this to dodge answering a difficult question. And no one was held accountable for this mistake, no one was reprimanded, they just got away with it. Or at least that is how the Council's handling of it is perceived.

The slowness of your process and the invisibility of it is frustrating to a lot of people who care about art in this city. I hope the outcome is positive.


progger said...


"The council ILLEGALLY removed the mural from the wall without anyone's permission."

For reals? Illegally, without anyone's permission?

Peter said...


The Council claimed they had been told to paint over the mural by the owner. Unfortunately it later emerged that this wasn't true. Neither the owner, the tenants, or the artist were approached by the Council - they painted over the mural without permission.

Anonymous said...

@ Progger Yes, for reals. Without the permission of the building owner. If they just rolled up and painted your place gray, what would you think?

Just let Askew's crew keep painting it. They've done a great job for 10 years, they've earned it.

Anonymous said...

I cant believe our tax dollars are being wasted on people like Sheridan Dickson.

Anonymous said...

Can Askew and the building owner not reach a private agreement about repainting the wall?
I would like to know why the council and there red tape needs to be involved at all?

Anonymous said...

Sheridan Dickson

You forgot to mention that Rob Sheilds will not let Elliot O'Donnell and crew repaint Poyton Tce their way, and tricked the owners of the wall to run with councils ideas.

Whats the point of having a submission process if you all you are going to accept is a design that is all "flora and fauna"

Anonymous said...
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