Keith Haring’s Collingwood mural is showing its true colours

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Published:  August 22, 2013

The controversial project to reinvigorate and protect Keith Haring’s huge wall mural on the Circus Oz site in Collingwood is well underway and the Victorian Minister for the Arts, Heidi Victoria, this week visited the site to view the work completed to date.

After a protracted period of debate between those who believed the mural should be left to weather and age naturally and those who wanted to refresh the rapidly deteriorating mural – in accordance with the wishes of the US-based Keith Haring Foundation – it was eventually decided that renowned Italian conservator Antonio Rava should be entrusted with the work.

Haring painted the huge mural during a visit to Melbourne in 1984, gifting the work to what was then the Collingwood Technical School.

Its importance intensified on Haring’s death in 1990, aged just 31, and is, coincidentally, believed to be one of only 31 known murals by the artist still in existence worldwide.

Arts Victoria took over responsibility of the site in 2010 when it was earmarked for the
development of Circus Oz’s new headquarters, which is now underway. Once Heritage approval was granted, works began to extensively clean the mural, selectively retouch the paintwork, restore the render that had been lost over the last three decades and apply a specialised treatment over the surface of the work to prevent future deterioration.

Rava was appointed to lead the project following an international call for submissions and is undertaking the work with the help of a team that includes his conservator son Filippo. A highly experienced restorer and conservationist, Rava has previously worked on another Haring mural – the Tuttomondo piece in Pisa, Italy – and his appointment was supported by Julia Gruen, the executive director of the Keith Haring Foundation.

The works are expected to be completed  in late 2013 and will include the restoration of Haring’s original signature, which was recovered this year after having been missing for nearly 30 years.

One Response

  1. To restore or leave well enough alone… that must of been a hard decision. Don’t envy them! However I think the right choice was made to allow future generations to enjoy the mural.

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