Grumpy cat gets rubbed out

DANIELLE STREET
Last updated 05:00 29/05/2013
Big King
JASON OXENHAM

GREYED-OUT: The artist who painted the much-loved grumpy cat has spent many hours creating artworks, only to have them covered over by Watercare.

Grumpy Cat
CELEBRITY CAT: Grumpy Cat is a social media phenomenon.

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The loss of a painting of a grumpy cat has sparked a discussion about the fate of one of Auckland's most prominent water towers.

The disgruntled kitty appeared on Big King reservoir last year and quickly gained the adoration of dozens of people who use the dog-friendly reserve. It resembled the famed Grumpy Cat of Facebook notoriety.

Eventually, like so much graffiti before it, the cat was covered over with grey paint.

Security cameras have also been installed on one side of the tower to keep taggers at bay.

But the anonymous person responsible for the grumpy cat painting says the cameras only stop the people doing legitimate artworks.

"It's never going to deter the ugly stuff, because you can pull your hoody up and tag the entire thing in 30 seconds. But I can't spend an hour up there painting anything nice anymore," he says.

The Mt Roskill resident has been painting the tower with his pop-surrealist pieces for about six years.

"I'm just trying to make my neighbourhood more interesting for me," he says.

"I'd cover that thing in paint if I could."

He says it is unfortunate that Watercare, the company responsible for the reservoir, cannot make the distinction between art and tagging.

"I know that people really loved the grumpy cat piece in particular.

"Dozens of photos of it have been posted online by other people and it's been viewed about three million times from what I can count," the artist says.

A spokesman for Watercare says dealing in public art is outside the company's operations.

"The cat picture might be cute to some members of the public, but to others it might be horrible," he says.

"As a water company it's a debate we don't want to get into."

Any graffiti will be treated as vandalism and removed.

Kate Bukowski runs a Facebook group called "Make Big King a Better Dog Park" and says a large number of her online community voiced their love for grumpy cat.

"Most of them wanted the artwork to be left so it could grow.

"People are in consensus that they liked the art but they don't like the graffiti," she says.

Bukowski says ideally the water tower would be removed from Three Kings' only remaining mountain, but in the meantime artwork would help beautify the unsightly reservoir.

Puketapapa Local Board member Michael Wood says the board also wants to get rid of the reservoir.

"That's something that we picked up on that the community wants as part of reinvigorating the mountain."

Wood says any murals on the tower would have to be worked through with Watercare and be subject to public consultation due to the prominent location.

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- Central Leader

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