Maribyrnong council has promised to make amends for accidentally stripping a disability pride mural off a Footscray wall.
Star Weekly last week reported that Seddon artist Larissa MacFarlane was devastated when contractors tore down a commissioned artwork created by a team of than 40 people and artists living with disability.
Carlie Park, one of the people who took part in the project, said the situation had distressed everyone who shared deeply personal artwork for the Disability Pride wall.
Ms Park, who lives with chronic illness, said many participants were making their first public acknowledgement of living with disability and the experience of having the artwork erased was deeply upsetting.
“I was really shocked and upset and dismayed about what happened,” she said. “It was kind of a big deal for me, a bit of a coming out with the artwork and saying I have a condition that will affect me for the rest of my life.”
Ms Park said hundreds of hours had been spent on a project that provided a real sense of camaraderie and belonging.
“It was a wonderful environment to be in, with people talking openly about disability.”
She said the experience had sparked three questions – whether contract cleaners were going to be the arbitrators of street art, what the act says about respect for people with disabilities, and what the council will do to compensate people in the community who had put their hearts on display for the project.
Since reporting the removal of the disability pride mural, Star Weekly has received reports of a number of other artworks being removed from private property in and around Footscray without permission.
Maribyrnong council chief executive Stephen Wall said the council is in discussion with the artists who created the original installation to determine their preference for reinstalling the work.
“We will then work with them to achieve this,” he said.
Ms MacFarlane said she has organised a meeting this Friday for some of the participants involved in the artwork, to provide each other with emotional support and to talk about ways move forward.