an iconic feminist mural has been defaced and removed in melbourne

After the Bomboniere to Barbed Wire mural in Melbourne's Northcote was defaced, we spoke to the local council about why they painted over the feminist messages left on the vandalised piece.

by Wendy Syfret
03 March 2016, 12:19pm

Image via Facebook

Painted in 1986 by local artists Eve Glenn and Megan Evans, Bomboniere to Barbed Wire was considered an important part of Melbourne's local landscape. Celebrating the lives, work, histories and cultures of women living there, the artwork served as a reminder to many of what the area was about: community, creativity and women working together to create a great place to live. 

The mural before it was destroyed.

That was until last week, when local tagger Nost defaced the artwork with their trademark scrawl. In the days since, the tag sat as a taunting eyesore to residents. As many of the women included in the mural remained local residents, some spoke out about how the mural's destruction effectively erased their heritage in the area. The original artists chose to paint women who weren't expressly visible in other forms of media at the time, they included indigenous Australians, members of the Greek immigrant community and elderly women.

Such was the damage the local mayor Roberto Colanzi deemed it beyond repair. In a statement to i-D Colanzi explained, "It cannot be cleaned without further destroying the artwork." When it became clear that there was little that could be done to restore the mural, several women decided to make their opinions felt. Nost's tag was covered in feminist graffiti declaring, "Nost is a dickhead" and "Fuck the patriarchy". That was until yesterday, when the council painted over these messages. Immediately the image of the council worker, roller in hand, was shared on social media.

Mayor Colanzi explained the decision to remove the women's messages: "The cherished Bomboniere to Barbed Wire mural was recently vandalised for a second time. The council obscured this new layer of graffiti, as it was itself offensive." While the language choice was certainly rude, to hear the feminist messages described at "offensive" likely won't resonate with local women.

Yet, in spite of this sad situation, there is still hope. Plans are already being made by local women to team up with the original artists and restore the piece themselves. Seems like it will take more than delinquent taggers to destroy community spirit.


Text Wendy Syfret