The Kings Cross community was horrified last week when Council contractors removed four life-sized photographic portraits installed by Channel Ten’s Guerrilla Gardens team seven weeks earlier on the corner of Ward Avenue and Roslyn Street.
As reported by The City News. The installation sparked an impromptu street party hosted by ‘The Sisters on the corner’, which was described by some as “the best thing that’s happened in Kings Cross for ages”. The installation was made on the wall of the Catholic Sisters’ premises with their permission and co-operation.
The work featured four life-sized portraits of people on the streets of the Cross, photographed the night before the installation and printed out on a new adhesive vinyl which is both UV and graffiti-resistant. Above them the Guerrilla team placed two tiers of pressed-metal planter boxes containing an instant garden. The Sisters operate the irrigation system which keeps the garden thriving.
The piece, diagonally opposite the historic Piccolo Bar, became the pride of locals. But Council’s ruthless policy, which fails to distinguish between graffiti and art, has turned that pride to pain.
“There was great distress among the community who were very proud of the garden wall,” say the Sisters, who have lived and worked in the area for over 20 years. “Every day it was talked about with delight and appreciation.”
Even the Graffiti Busters team, Council contractors who had been ordered to remove the art, said “This can’t be right” when they arrived at the site on Monday morning 11 May. However they contacted their boss who reiterated that the art should be removed.
The sisters believe the removal of the art was a “terrible mistake”. A graffiti tag had been drawn on one of the portraits and the sisters were about to clean it off when they discovered the portraits had been removed. They think the contractors were meant to remove only the tag, not the artworks.
Initially “angry and disillusioned,” the sisters believe the mistake should be rectified and the photos returned. They point out that in its bare state the wall is a constant target for graffiti attack.
“Council money is spent repeatedly painting over the graffiti. An attractive wall, particularly one with an anti-graffiti component is a much more satisfactory solution. We can look after it ourselves and it is an asset to the area.”
However Council policy demands that a full Development Application, with its expensive and lengthy process, be lodged before art can be put on a privately owned wall that faces public space. It has a long history of removing public art from private walls and then denying responsibility for it.
One resident who phoned Council was told that Council staff had not removed the art, a typical denial which has little credibility as witnesses described a City of Sydney logo on the truck involved. Council said one complaint about the artwork had been received.