A Seddon artist has been left devastated by the sudden removal of a Footscray artwork created by a team of people and artists living with disability.
Larissa MacFarlane was commissioned to lead the creation of the Disability Pride artwork as part of the One Night in Footscray celebrations held just over a week ago.
More than 40 people and artists with disability spent hundreds of hours installing the paste-up art work on the Footscray Exchange building on Nicholson Street as part of the event, co-presented by Maribyrnong Council and Victoria University.
The work was also due to mark International Day of People with Disability, celebrated on Sunday.
Despite being told it would remain for a significant length of time, Macfarlane discovered on Monday that it has been torn down barely a week after its creation.
An accomplished artist with an acquired brain injury who is known for her paste-ups of handstands, MacFarlane told Star Weekly she first noticed the art had been stripped off the walls when she rode past around lunchtime.
She said the artwork had been pasted up with the blessing of building owner Telstra, which had even arranged for the cleaning of the wall beforehand to create a blank canvas.
Telstra has since been in touch with MacFarlane and will be investigating who was responsible for the erasure.
MacFarlane says she has been left appalled, devastated and shaking with horror at the “blatant act of contempt” that epitomises the way that people with disabilities are treated in Australia.
The artist posted her dismay to social media, saying she was deeply sorry to all the people who worked so hard and gave her their trust.
“Many people involved in this artwork, shared that this was the first time they had felt pride in themselves.
“For some people it was their first time identifying as disabled, because they already know the deeply entrenched and discriminating ableism in this country.”
The Disability Pride artwork was intended as a collaborative paste up to celebrate the culture of Melbourne’s disabled community, challenging the narrow stereotypes of disability and making a stand that joins with the international disability pride movement.
Suspicion over the removal of the artwork has fallen on Maribyrnong Council contractors, but MacFarlane said she has not yet been contacted to confirm what has happened.
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.
Star Weekly has contacted Maribyrnong Council for clarification and comment.