A beloved painting in Newcastle's inner-city suburb of Wickham was demolished last Thursday to make way for a new 14-story apartment complex.
The mural, depicting an Aboriginal boy's face, was painted on the West End precinct's McNamara Adams building by street artist Adnate in November 2013. Last week, the building was bulldozed to make room for a major development by Thirdi Group and BaseBuild.
The mural's creator, Adnate, has reportedly been commissioned to repaint a larger version of the now demolished mural on the exterior of the new development once it has been completed in 2020.
Thirdi Group director of sales and marketing Luke Berry told the Herald that it was always the company's plan to replicate the popular artwork when they purchased the land.
Adante painted the original mural during the three-day festival, 'Hit The Bricks' in 2013, which invited some of the country's most accomplished street artists to bomb the walls of Newcastle with public art. He previously told the Newcastle Herald that the local community had welcomed the artwork as their own.
“They've taken an amazing sense of ownership over this, which is really powerful and really incredible," he said.
However, a recent piece by Adnate, which features local Indigenous Elder Aunty June Rose –founder of the Awabakal Newcastle Aboriginal Co-Operative– and her great-granddaughter, 20-month-old Nayeli Green, has been vandalised twice since it was unveiled on the corner of Stewart Avenue and Hunter Street in Newcastle's west in December.
The artwork includes an eagle, to showcase the knowledge passed down from generation to generation as well as the decades of volunteer work by Aunty June Rose as apart of her Aboriginal co-operative.
Kumarah Green, mother of Nayeli and granddaughter of Aunty June Rose, said she found out about the vandalism on Facebook.
"Everyone in Newcastle is really upset about it... it's not just for us, it's a beautiful piece of art by an incredible artist who has done it for the Newcastle communities," Ms Green told NITV News.
"Seeing so many people on social media being so upset about it being vandalised, it really hits home to us how important it is to everyone and not just us."
The defacement included a graffiti tag on the chin of Aunty June Rose and a bucket of paint thrown over the artwork. Ms Green said it was fortunate the bulk of the artwork sat too high for much else to have been done to it without a ladder or scaffolding.
Revitalising Newcastle, who commissioned the artwork, has since cleaned off the graffiti.
Ms Green said the vandalism was also a display of disrespect towards the artist and believes Adnate should be treated with more respect.
"It is disheartening and it is disrespectful to the artist because he really is just so incredible... ten days it took... and to see that disrespected is really hard for everyone," she said.