Keith Haring Mural
A fading art treasure, a radiant baby anonymously returns, and a world renowned art figure…the story of Collingwood’s Keith Haring mural is as lively as the work itself.
Keith Haring (1958-1990) was a widely popular American artist and social activist who is often credited with bringing street art into the mainstream.
In 1984, as his star was on the rise internationally, he visited Australia where he undertook art projects in Sydney and Melbourne including a large scale outdoor mural at what was then the Collingwood Technical School.
The Collingwood mural is now one of only 31 known murals across the world by Haring that have survived and one of only three that hasn’t been significantly over-painted. In recognition of its local, national and international significance, it was added to the Victorian Heritage Register in 2004.
In 2010 Creative Victoria (then Arts Victoria) took over management of the Collingwood site where the mural is situated when part of it was selected to house the new headquarters for Circus Oz. At that time we initiated a project to conserve and protect the mural.
The project intended to bring back the mural’s visibility and vitality, allowing people to once again see the mural the way Keith Haring intended.
In line with the mural's Heritage listing, a Heritage Victoria permit was required before works could commence. The permit, granted in August 2012, allowed for:
- Research and technical investigation works
- Works to protect the mural from UV damage
- Repair and reinstatement of damaged or lost paint and render
- Retouching of red and yellow paint subject to technical investigations
- Cleaning and consolidation treatments, and
- Landscaping works in the surrounding area.
The missing piece
While the formal process was underway, Arts Victoria continued to consult with a range of stakeholders who were part of the mural story, which led to something incredible when the signature piece of the mural (a wooden door located at the bottom mural – see gap in the image below) was returned anonymously to the Arts Victoria office. Find out more about the return of the missing door.
Following an international call for submissions, renowned conservator Antonio Rava was appointed as the lead conservator on the restoration project.
A specialist contemporary art conservator, Antonio Rava travelled to Australia from his native Italy to undertake the project. Antonio is the Vice President of the Italian Institute of Conservation and in addition to working on contemporary artworks he has also undertaken conservation on works by old masters, including late 13th century painter Giotto.
Prior to working in Australia, Antonio, in collaboration with America conservator Will Shank, undertook conservation work on another Haring mural, the large-scale Tuttomondo mural in Pisa Italy.
Antonio’s appointment was praised by the US-based Keith Haring Foundation, who have described Antonio’s work as ‘extraordinary’.
His work on the Collingwood mural to date has brought back the original colours and Haring’s characteristic vibrancy. It will ensure that this mural, painted as a gift to the people of Collingwood, will continue to be enjoyed by passers by and local, national and international art-lovers for many years to come.
Keith Haring Mural - before restoration
Keith Haring Mural - during restoration