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Council vows to rebuild Highbury Grove mural following its removal

PUBLISHED: 16:57 25 September 2014 | UPDATED: 16:58 25 September 2014

Caroline Russell with fragments of the Highbury Grove mural that she found in a skip

Caroline Russell with fragments of the Highbury Grove mural that she found in a skip

Archant

The council has vowed to create a new mural that will replace the one it pulled down in a sudden decision last week.

Highbury Grove mural Highbury Grove mural

An original work of art in Highbury Grove featuring 61 different plants and animals that could be found in the surrounding urban wildlife was torn down in order to ensure the safety of passers-by as the rendering was cracking and falling away from the building.

Cllr Janet Burgess, Islington Council’s executive member for health and wellbeing, said: “People can be killed by falling masonry so we had to take urgent action to make the building safe because the render was in a dangerous condition and a hazard to those walking beneath.

“We are very excited about the possibility of a new mural on the same site and have instructed the contractors to use a suitable type of render in anticipation of this.”

The gable of the house, owned by One Housing Group, was completely covered in the wildlife-themed painting in 1986 by muralist, Dave Bangs, with help from the students of nearby Highbury Grove Comprehensive School and was a favourite in the community.

The mural is in Cllr Caroline Russell’s ward and she said: “Residents are very saddened by the loss of this mural.

“It has been part of our daily lives for years as we pass by on foot, on bikes, in cars or on the bus.

“One resident knocked on my door at the weekend with fragments of the painting rescued from the skip in case I hadn’t heard about it.”

A petition has been started by local residents, including former councillor Terry Stacy, which aims to have the fading and chipped mural reinstated to its previous glory following what he calls a “municipal act of vandalism”.

He said: “The council had spoken to the original artists and were preparing a bid for the £10,000 cost from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

“Sadly council officers in the council’s property department last week authorised its removal giving no warning and as a result monies from the HLF will now not be forthcoming.”

The council’s heritage department has been in touch with two of the original painters who worked on the mural, Karen Gregory and Diana Leary, to restore or recreate it and Cllr Burgess ensured they will be working with Highbury Grove School, the nearby Daylight Centre and One Housing Group in order to achieve this.

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