SEX predator Rolf Harris’ mural in Warrnambool’s Lighthouse Theatre is being temporarily covered by city council workers.
While the artwork — which is already out of public view due to its location on a backstage wall — remains undamaged, it will no longer be visible behind a painted perspex cover.
The move comes following the 84-year-old entertainer’s conviction for indecent assault and questions raised about what to do with his artwork.
As Warrnambool’s mural was painted on to the wall and couldn’t be removed without being destroyed, public figures and sexual abuse experts called for the painting to be covered up.
Mayor Michael Neoh said it was a sensible move while the final fate of the artwork can be discussed.
“In consultation with councillors I have instructed officers to cover the Rolf Harris artwork,” Cr Neoh said.
“This will allow an interim but reversible measure that can make allowance for outcomes of any potential appeal processes in relation to the artist.
“I do not consider this action as censorship of the artwork but rather a stance on not exhibiting the work of an artist who has currently been found guilty of conduct that conflicts with the council’s support for preventing violence against women.”
Cr Neoh said he didn’t want “a kneejerk reaction” and hoped the council could have “a general discussion with councillors” about the fate of the mural in the future.
He added that he favoured preserving the artwork in a new context, as opposed to destroying it.
“The artwork has no context at moment — we need to have a discussion around how we create that context, an educational awareness context,” he explained.
“I don’t want to pre-empt the fate of the artwork (but) it could be used to promote issues such as violence against women.”
He said the perspex covering the mural could be used to display an image such as a white ribbon — the symbol of the campaign against violence towards women — or something that puts the artwork into a contemporary context related to Harris’ crimes.
About 450 people responded to a poll on The Standard website yesterday asking whether people wanted to keep the mural, cover the mural or destroy the mural.
The majority were against destroying it — only 31 per cent wished to have the mural removed.
The rest of the votes were split between keep it (26 per cent) and cover it (43 per cent).