The mural was painted on the side of Highgate’s Soto Espresso by local artists Konfucius, Destroy and Idol. They’d donated their time and materials, with Vincent city council kicking in $1000.
But Soto closed after going into administration early this year and the place is reopening as the Mary Street Bakery under Alex Cuccovia and Michael Forde (Cantina 663) and Paul Aron and John Little (El Publico). “It will definitely go,” Mr Aron says of the mural. “It’s just not going to work with what we’re doing there. The landlord who owns the building was never consulted on it and doesn’t want it there.
“We understand it’s a beautiful big piece of community art, but people have to understand when you’re spending all this money to revitalise a business sometimes you need to make changes.”
He says he and his partners support local artists, noting El Publico’s murals were painted by locals, and if a new mural goes on the bakery Konfucius and co will be asked to do it.
But Konfucius, aka Ben Witherick, doesn’t appear keen, describing his art’s removal as “disgusting”.
“We’re not signwriters, we’re artists. They can get a signwriter to write ‘pizza’ or ‘bakery’ on the wall. We worked so hard towards this. We were pretty much shocked that they wanted to get rid of it.
“We spent about six weeks doing it out of our own time and money to bring a bit of brightness to the community.” Formerly into less legitimate forms of street art, he says the mural was an attempt to, “show people that you can get on the right path and do good for the community”.
by DAVID BELL