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Thursday, 15th March, 2018

Artist John Hinton when he first started the mural in Crystal Lane work has now had to be stopped. PICTURE: Emily Roberts Artist John Hinton when he first started the mural in Crystal Lane work has now had to be stopped. PICTURE: Emily Roberts

By Emily Roberts

City Council has ordered the removal of a Crystal Lane mural it has described as “graffiti” and this has prompted some councillors to call an extraordinary meeting to deal with the matter.

Last month a mural being painted by John Hinton on the wall of Nachiappan’s Surgery was halted by Council.

At Council’s February monthly meeting it was revealed that a Development Application (DA) for the work hadn’t been lodged.

Dr Ramu Nachiappan has requested an extension to deal with the issue and has arranged to meet the city’s Heritage Advisor to investigate options to modify the mural to better align with the city’s heritage values.

“Under the provisions of the Broken Hill Local Environmental Plan 2013 (LEP), the property is listed as a Heritage Item and is within a Heritage Conservation Area,” Francois Van Der Berg, Manager of Planning Development and Compliance wrote to Dr Nachiappan.

“In the case of the mural painted on the side wall of your building, knowing that a retrospective Development Application would need to be considered by the Heritage Adviser, Council has been pro-active in referring it to the Adviser prior to an Application being submitted.”

A number of points were noted by the adviser including that paintings require consent, and that they could also be considered advertising, which also required consent.

“The addition of large-scale imagery to a building facade has the potential to create adverse heritage impacts on the broader heritage values of Broken Hill City,” the adviser said in the letter.

“This also raises a larger question of whether large painted graphics are an appropriate form for Broken Hill and how do they fit with the heritage values of the city?”

It was also suggested that the work could be considered graffiti.

“As the work is not being undertaken under an approval or an exemption it needs to be considered within the categorisation of graffiti and should be removed.

“This is irrespective of any artistic merit that may or may not be argued.”

Dr Nachiappan said this was very upsetting to hear.

“John is very angry and feels let down by the council decision,” he said.

“In my personal opinion this mural is an issue that is likely to affect resident artists and art enthusiasts, and the general public’s views on graffiti, particularly in the town centre and tourists who come here to experience our history and art. 

“I was offended by the use of the word ‘graffiti’ to describe John Hinton’s unfinished mural on the side of my building. 

“Any public opinion needs to be raised and aired so John and I can make an appropriate decision regarding our options in view of this letter from  our city council regarding this mural. 

Mr Hinton said he didn’t consider himself a “graffiti artist”.

“Every artist in town isn’t happy. None of them have ever had to get permission to paint at the airport or other places.

“When I was doing it, we had tourists pulling up - they were loving it.

“They would come off the train and walk down to see what it was.

“You can only see the mural when you walk down to Nachiappan’s Surgery.”

Councillor Tom Kennedy, along with councillors Bob Algate and Ron Page, have called for Mayor Darriea Turley to hold an extraordinary meeting to be held immediately to vote to retrospectively approve the mural.

“It’s a little bit disappointing to see that Council have gone the heavy hand,” said Clr Kennedy. “The business was trying to improve the outlook of their area.

“Right across the road from the mural is graffiti.”

He said it was Council policy to promote murals where they can.

“In Council’s mural and art policy it states that Council will promote the use of murals and paintings to add vibrancy to the town.

“The mural policy does require DA consent, but Council are also meant to encourage them.

“Council should have contacted the owner of the building to work with them to ensure the mural is acceptable.”

Clr Kennedy said to consider the mural advertising was a bit much.

“They are drawing a long bow to consider it advertising - the art work was just a bit of fun,” he said.

“It doesn’t impact on the heritage of the building - you can paint over a mural at any time.

“What would impact on the heritage values would be alterations to the building.

“Council management should have gone to councillors for direction on how to handle this.

“I can see it ending up an issue in the community for holding back city development.”

A Council spokesman yesterday said Council had to fulfil its obligations and follow guidelines set by state departments.

“This is not simply a matter of Council’s ‘support’,” he said. 

“Council cannot ignore the Acts and legislation by which it is bound, and is adhering to standard procedure and processes when addressing this  


The spokesman wouldn’t elaborate on how the mural could be considered advertising or what impact on heritage values it would have.

“After receiving the letter, the owner discussed the matter with Council staff and requested an extension to comply with Council’s directions. This request was granted.

“The owner wishes to meet with the city’s Heritage Advisor and investigate options to modify the mural to better align with the city’s heritage values and meet any requirements. Council will facilitate this meeting at the earliest convenience.

“As this is a heritage building located within a heritage precinct, it is subject to more compliance conditions than a similar project would attract in a less prominent part of the city. Council acknowledges that the owner is endeavouring to retrospectively meet the compliance criteria.”

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