Artist plans to resurrect singer's street memorial

'I hope it will stop being tagged'

KERRY MCBRIDE
Last updated 05:00 25/02/2013
FANS' GRIEF: The Ian Curtis Memorial Wall in Wallace St, Wellington, before council workers painted over it.

FANS' GRIEF: The Ian Curtis Memorial Wall in Wallace St, Wellington, before council workers painted over it.

Maurice Bennett
FRESH LICK OF PAINT: Wellington artist Maurice Bennett wants to return the Ian Curtis memorial wall in Mt Cook to how it originally looked in 1981.

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Mt Cook's Ian Curtis memorial wall is set to be painted over again but this time it won't be by council workers.

Wellington artist Maurice Bennett, best known for his celebrity portraits in burnt toast, plans to restore the wall to its former glory tomorrow by repainting it as it was when it first mysteriously appeared in 1981.

The words "Ian Curtis Lives" were painted on the Wallace St wall shortly after the Joy Division singer died in 1980, and the site has since become an ongoing battle between Curtis fans and graffiti artists.

Over the years, it has been painted over, only to spring up again in the dead of night. The wall is owned by the Wellington City Council and in 2009 the message was removed by the council's anti-graffiti crew but the message was back up again within a week.

For Bennett, who has lived in Wellington for the past 20 years, the wall has become "sacred" and he said it deserved to be properly restored.

"It's been in a sorry state for quite a while. I've got a love of Joy Division and Ian Curtis but I know that if I waited to go through the proper processes, it might never get the improvements it needs." He had not sought formal permission from the council for his restoration job but he hoped it would be seen as a good-spirited art piece.

"I hope it will stop it being tagged and generally vandalised, and bring people back to the knowledge that the wall is sacred.

"It's a memorial, it has significance to Wellington. It's part of our city and a taste of what makes this city so great."

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said: "In the tradition of the Curtis wall, the council is happy to turn a blind eye".

"It's supposed to be done in the early hours of the morning by persons unknown, so he's already broken one of the rules of the wall, but I would imagine we'll be fine with it, as I'd expect he'll do a pretty good job of it.

"If I was a betting man, I wouldn't put money on how long his version is going to go untouched but that's part of the tradition as well - every time someone redoes it, there's someone waiting to have a go at it. That's part of the fun."

WHO WAS CURTIS?

Lead singer of post-punk band Joy Division. Born July 15, 1956, in Stretford, Greater Manchester. Suffered from epilepsy and depression. Killed himself on May 18, 1980, just before the band were to begin their first tour of North America. He was 23.

Contact Kerry McBride
Porirua reporter
Email: kerry.mcbride@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @kerry_mcbride

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- The Dominion Post

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