'Shocked And Disappointed': Artist Reacts After Controversial Bondi Mural Defaced
A controversial Bondi Beach mural which highlights Australia's immigration detention system has been defaced just hours after the local council voted for it to stay.
Archibald-nominated artist Luke Cornish is the man behind the seawall mural depicting 24 armed Australian Border Force officers standing in line with the words "Not... Welcome To Bondi" written above.
It is a piece that has sparked heated debate since its completion in July.
Residents and some councillors called for it to be removed immediately, while a Change.org petition demanded it be painted over.
But Cornish stood his ground, strongly defending his political mural and explaining that the officers were meant to represent "the 24 suicides in detention facilities since 2010".
On Tuesday night, the mural was at the centre of a heated debate between councillors, where a vote was eventually passed in favour of keeping the art piece.
It was a decision welcomed by Cornish.
"Thanks everyone who signed the petition to save the Bondi Mural, the Waverley Council just voted 5 to 4 in favour of keeping it. Hasta la Victoria siempre," he posted on Facebook moments after the announcement.
Hours later, the vandal struck, covering the mural with white paint, unmissable by early morning swimmers and joggers.
"It was a bit of a shock," Cornish admitted to 10 daily. "It was only last night that council decided to keep it".
He explained that while he was "disappointed," he accepts that it is the nature of street art, particularly political street art, and didn't take it to heart.
According to Cornish, the conversation surrounding the mural had been "hi-jacked".
He said that his art wasn't created to attack anybody. Not the government, not Border Force officers and certainly not those who don't want to know about the issue.
The mural wasn't about free speech either.
It was simply a statement about the need to treat people better.
"It was there to push boundaries and to create dialogue," he said. "Even though it's been painted over, it has done its job."
Cornish said that we should expect similar murals in the future.
"I have no intention of changing the questions I'm asking," he said, confirming that he is paying no attention to the vandal's destruction.
"I'm not going to give [the vandalism] any energy, I'm not going to fan the flames because that's what the [vandal] wants."
Instead, he's taking a week off before diving headfirst into a new project.
But, while Cornish may not be getting bogged down in the drama, the vandalism has grabbed the attention of local police officers.
NSW Police confirmed to 10 daily that an investigation was launched on Wednesday morning after the council rangers notified them about the graffiti.
"Officers were notified by council rangers after a section of the mural wall had been defaced," NSW Police said in a statement.
They're calling for any witnesses of the "malicious damage," to contact the Eastern Suburbs Police Area Command or Crime Stoppers.
10 daily has contacted the Waverley Council for comment.