Artist calls in the lawyers

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LEGAL action is brewing between Vincent city council and local artist Matt McVeigh, with a letter sent to council alleging breach of contract.

The council originally voted to pay Mr McVeigh $30,000 for a work of public art. He was advanced $5000.

Vincent mayor Alannah MacTiernan said McVeigh later told the council he couldn’t create what they’d ordered and submitted new designs, but he maintains he made the changes at the request of the council’s arts officer who wanted the piece to be sturdier.

Most councillors didn’t like the re-design and voted to instead spend $60,000 on a piece by Chinese artist Chen Wen Ling.

In defending the shift to Mr Chen, mayor Alannah MacTiernan referred to Mr McVeigh’s design as, “a very stock-standard piece of municipal art and we’re trying to do something a bit better”.

Mr McVeigh has his friend and lawyer Leo Hartley looking over the case.

Mr Hartley says, “under the contract he was to develop a ‘final design’ which would be approved by the city and then he would produce the work in accordance with this design”.

The contract Mr McVeigh signed with the city required it to notify him in writing of any changes to the work.  “They failed to do so,” Mr Hastings said.

“Matt received a few vague emails from the arts officer and obligingly made changes as directed.

“He was never notified, as required by the contract, of the specific changes the city wanted.”

He also wasn’t told council would terminate the contract if he didn’t amend it as they directed. The first he’d learned he’d been sacked as artist was when the Voice called him.

“In sum, the city is in breach,” Mr Hartley says. “Matt was commissioned and to date has met all obligations under the contract. The city must work things out with him and uphold their obligations under the contract.”

Vincent CEO John Giorgi says, “the city is seeking further legal advice on this matter”.


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