As members of the public who admire and respect the art of Keith Haring and the mural he painted at the old Collingwood Technical College during his one visit to Australia in 1984, we object to the Victorian Government and Arts Victoria’s proposed plan to stabilise the mural in its current deteriorated condition. This proposal directly contravenes the stated wishes of the artist’s estate, the Keith Haring Foundation, which was established by the artist to represent his interests prior to his early death in 1990.
In interviews and texts Keith Haring often spoke of the importance of the visibility and accessibility of his imagery. The Foundation have publicly stated that due to the extensive deterioration of the Collingwood mural it should be repainted, either on the original wall or on a surface placed in front of it. They believe Keith would have wanted the intended vitality of the original image to be reinstated and the mural gifted back to the people of Collingwood.
Our argument is not for the return of a 'pretty picture' but for the artist's wishes to be upheld and respected in the mural's future care. These wishes are best represented by those who knew and worked with Keith; the board members of the Keith Haring Foundation. Our position is further supported by a broad cross‐section of the Australian and international contemporary arts community who have submitted letters to Arts Victoria advocating for the artist’s moral rights to be upheld and the artist’s wishes considered primary in any decisions regarding the mural.
The mural is listed with the Victorian Heritage Council (VHC) as a site of state significance. Arts Victoria must apply and receive a permit from the VHC to undertake any work on the mural site. This application process offers an important opportunity for the voice of the public to be heard by both the Victorian Government and the Victorian Heritage Council.
Together we ask for this wrong to be put right; honour Keith Haring and the generous and lively gift he left with us in the form of the Collingwood mural and ensure his wishes, as represented by the Keith Haring Foundation, are respected and upheld in any decision or action undertaken at this site.