Street art fans have set up an online petition to save a giant graffiti rabbit daubed on the side of a Hackney studio-café, after council officials declared that it must be painted over within weeks.
The 12 foot rabbit was painted on the wall of the Premises Studios by the renowned Belgian artist ROA.
In September 2010, environmental officers ordered owners of the shop-front at 203 Hackney Road to remove the painting from its wall. However, the deadline to remove the artwork expired on October 14th, and the council are now able step in.
Julia Craik, managing director of the building, has written to the council concerning the removal of the graffiti, but she is still awaiting a response.
The council proposed that she apply for planning permission to keep the piece – however, Craik said this was merely a ‘very deceitful way of making money.’
Locals in favour of keeping the ROA artwork have asked for a similar system to be used to that of a case in Sutton. Residents there were asked to vote on whether a Banksy installation should be painted over. A resounding ‘no’ was the answer. More than 90% of the respondents voted in favour of saving the piece.
An online petition entitled ‘Protect ROA’s Giant Rabbit’ has now been created to plead for the rabbit’s reprieve.
A Hackney council spokesperson said: “Whilst the council is not in a position to make a judgement call on whether graffiti is art or not, our task is to keep Hackney’s streets clean.”
“People are constantly passing by, taking photos [of the rabbit] and street art is one of Hackney’s important features that many people visit the borough to tour,” retorted Ms Craik, to those who levelled criticism at the studio for attempting to keep the work.
ROA, whose work has been shown from America to Italy, recently put on an exhibition of his work in Shoreditch, at the Pure Evil gallery. Charley Edwards, who runs the gallery, said: “It was the most successful show we’ve ever had in terms of people coming. You could hear the gasps as people walked in and saw his pieces.”
Following the debate, ROA has claimed that the London authorities are amongst the most intolerant to graffiti in the world.