Street artist Lushsux has reacted to the furore over his West Footscray mural of US presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in a skimpy swimsuit by painting over the image with a Muslim niqab.
The murals have been painted with permission on the exterior of a Sunshine Road business called Mr Mobility, which sells wheelchairs and scooters.
Maribyrnong Council had written to the property owner warning they had 10 days to remove the Clinton image or they could face fines and prosecution.
Chief executive Stephen Wall said a number of complaints had been made about the mural.
“We believe that this mural is ‘offensive’ because of the depiction of a near naked woman, not on the basis of disrespect to Hilary Clinton, and it is not in keeping with our stance on gender equity,” he said.
“We contacted Victoria Police to provide their opinion on the matter, and they deemed the mural to be offensive and in contravention of the Graffiti Prevention Act 2007, which Council is responsible for enforcing.”
Mr Wall said the altered mural is no longer considered offensive and no further action against the property owner is planned.
Mr Mobility’s owner is currently overseas, but a friend who is minding the business said Maribyrnong Council had over-reacted about the original mural.
“Someone from the council came in and said it has to go and I wasn’t very happy,” she said.
“You see much worse in advertising around the place. I’m a woman and I’m not offended by it, it’s just getting to be ridiculous.”
Lushsux, whose Instagram account was temporarily removed after he posted a photo of his Clinton mural, has since painted a revealing nude mural in a CBD laneway of Clinton’s presidential rival, Donald Trump.
The mural originally featured Trump’s genitals, which have now been replaced with Clinton’s face.
The artist then repainted the Clinton mural on Monday, covering her with a niqab.
He said the wall no longer features a “supposed ‘offensive and near naked’ Hillary Clinton”, but now contains a depiction of “a beautiful Muslim woman”.
“No reasonable individual would consider this offensive. If you do consider it offensive you are a sexist, racist, islamophobic, xenophobic, uncultured and ignorant bigot.”
Maribyrnong councillor Sarah Carter said the original “highly sexualised” mural was tacky and confronting, but care needed to be taken before censorship was considered.
Women’s Health West chief executive Dr Robyn Gregory said the Clinton mural struck her as disrespectful and reminiscent of the kind of sexism faced by Julia Gillard as Prime Minister, but that she was “not one for censorship”.
“Obviously we are not fond of censorship but we would like to try and avoid images where there are really clear gender biases and overly sexualised images of female politicians.”
Maribyrnong Council has previously raised the ire of a street artist for censoring a commissioned mural in Yarraville.