Haring painting the mural at Collingwood Technical College in 1984, and right, the work in 2010

Arts Victoria is expected to lodge a permit application with Heritage Victoria shortly so that it can begin conservation work on Keith Haring’s last surviving large-scale mural in Australia. The proposed move has prompted protest from art world figures, the local council and the Keith Haring Foundation, who have called for the mural to be repainted in accordance with the late artist’s wishes, rather than being preserved in its current state.

Time, neglect and the elements have taken their toll on the mural, painted on the former Collingwood Technical College in 1984 at the behest of John Buckley, then the director of the Australian Centre for Contemp­orary Art (ACCA). A campaign to prevent the work from fading away began in earnest in 2010 (The Art Newspaper, June 2010, p8). In April 2011, Arts Victoria released a conservation management plan that calls for “urgent conservation works” including an investigation of the materials used by Haring, cleaning, “selective retouching”, stabilisation and the application of a protective coating. A spokeswoman for Arts Victoria says: “It is important to note that the [plan] does not rule out overpainting the mural in the future should appropriate materials become available that would not destroy the original paint work.”

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Emily Sharpe
The Art Newspaper

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