Maribyrnong Council has been forced to issue an apology following an embarrassing blunder in which graffiti contractors tore down commissioned artwork created by a team of artists living with disability.
More than 40 people spent hundreds of hours installing the ‘Disability Pride’ paste-up on the Tesltra exchange building in Footscray, an artwork commissioned by Maribyrnong Council as part of recent One Night in Footscray celebrations.
The project was led by artist Larissa MacFarlane, an accomplished visual artist with an acquired brain injury who is widely regarded for her paste-up art.
The work was also intended to celebrate International Day of People with Disability, held on Sunday, but MacFarlane was devastated to find it had been completely obliterated barely a week after it went up.
MacFarlane said she has been left appalled, devastated and shaking with horror at a “blatant act of contempt” epitomising the way that people with disabilities are treated in Australia.
She contacted the council to find out what had happened, but had not heard back by Tuesday afternoon.
MacFarlane said she has been exhausted by the ordeal, but will be investigating ways the artwork may be replaced.
Maribyrnong Council chief executive Stephen Wall said the council offers its sincere apologies to the artists involved in the project.
He said the council will be meeting with its graffiti contractors to review their procedures, after confirming the contractors had removed the artwork.
“Again, we sincerely apologise to Ms McFarlane and all the artists involved in the installation. We fully support their work and all that it represented, and are embarrassed by this unfortunate mistake.”
The incident comes days after the council sparked another street art censorship controversy, this time involving an image of Donald Trump by Yarraville artist Van T Rudd.
Maribyrnong Council contacted the building owner to insist they removal the “offensive” mural, depicting protesters throwing rocks at an army tank topped by the face of US President Donald Trump.
The council has not clarified why the mural was considered offensive.