Councillors back move to cover up Harris’ artwork

CITY councillors look set to banish a Rolf Harris mural from view in Warrnambool’s main theatre following the entertainer’s child sex convictions.

A survey of Warrnambool’s councillors found most respondents wanted to either cover or erase the mural, painted by Harris at the now Lighthouse Theatre during a 1986 concert tour.

Warrnambool mayor Michael Neoh said it was yet to be worked out whether the mural will be permanently obscured.

“There might not be any need for a vote,” Cr Neoh said. “If there’s councillor consensus on a particular way of dealing with (the mural) then that’s the way it’ll be handled.”

Cr Peter Hulin said a discussion between councillors should have happened soon after the Harris guilty verdict in London this week.

“I’m not into censorship but we should not celebrate (Harris) in any way and there should have been immediate discussions on the matter,” he said.

Cr Jacinta Ermacora said this week covering up the mural would send the right message.

“It’s sad from an artistic perspective, but that work now symbolises a person which the community no longer respects,” she said.

Cr Rob Askew said the council’s move to cover up the mural was the right response until the Harris case was well-and-truly concluded.

“I think it’s appropriate to cover it up pending the appeal process, then council can make an informed decision,” he said.

Cr Brian Kelson said while he would ultimately prefer to see the mural destroyed, the city council had taken the proper course of action so far.

“It’s been handled well. I think there’s to be a bit of caution but the feedback I get is that people want to see it gone forever,” he said.

Cr Peter Sycopoulis also said the council had taken the right steps to address the emotive issue. “I think when the dust settles we can look at this more closely but I think it’s been handled appropriately.”

Cr Kylie Gaston was unavailable when contacted yesterday.

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