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Hackney studio’s rabbit saved, council urged to reconsider street art policies

By | Published on Wednesday 10 November 2010

Owners of a recording studio in Hackney are celebrating after their local council reversed a decision to white wash over an artwork painted on the side of their building.

Last month The Premises studio in north east London was told by Hackney Council to remove the large rabbit painting on the side of its building, put there with the permission of the studio’s owners by Belgian street artist ROA. The council deemed the marvellous twelve foot painting of a rabbit to be dangerous graffiti and wanted it gone, despite hundreds of locals saying how much they liked it. Council officials threatened to paint over the artwork themselves and bill the owners of The Premises for the work.

The studio launched an online petition to save the artwork, which more than 2000 people signed in the space of a week. To be fair to the Council, it listened to the public, and owners of The Premises announced on Monday that the Council’s threat to paint over the rabbit had been officially withdrawn.

The facility’s Julia Craik said in a statement: “The petition to ‘save the rabbit’ received an astonishing amount of public support in a short period of time. At one point names were being added at a rate of one per minute and the topic trended on Twitter. Local artists, schools and residents all lent their support to demand that Hackney Council drop their threat to the painting”.

She continues: “We’re delighted that Hackney Council have recognised our campaign and we’d like to thank everyone for all the amazing support and work to help save our rabbit. It’s a beautiful piece of street art that everyone loves and we’re very glad it’s here to stay”.

Although Hackney Council has shown some common sense this time round, many locals are now calling on the local authority to review its approach to street art, and set up a better system for distinguishing between damaging graffiti and groundbreaking artwork that brightens up otherwise grim streets. This is, after all, the Council that painted over a popular and probably priceless Banksy cartoon that had appeared on a Blur single cover, despite the protestations of the owner of the building where the artwork was painted.

The council says that 750 locals would have to sign a petition for the issue of street art policy to be discussed at a full council meeting. It has said it will post such a petition online on 1 Dec.