A much-loved mural which tells the story of Sydney from black and white viewpoints could be destroyed and replaced with advertising signage, the artwork’s creator fears.
The mural along both sides of the underground Domain Express Walkway in the city has been targeted by vandals and may be removed rather than repaired.
The moving walkway, which was once the longest in the world at 207 metres in each direction, links the Domain parking station with Hyde Park.
Every day the travelator carries thousands of commuters to and from the central business district in a five-minute journey many spend admiring the painting.
Scroll down for video
A huge mural which tells the story of Sydney from black and white viewpoints could be destroyed and replaced with advertising signage, the artwork’s creator fears. The artwork was created in the Domain Express Walkway by artist Tim Guider in 1996
The mural, titled ‘Tunnel Vision’ runs along both sides of the underground travelator in Sydney’s central business district and may be removed rather than repaired. The moving walkway was once the longest in the world at 207 metres in each direction
Tunnel Vision includes one of Australia’s first illuminated public sculptures (pictured) and was created years before such installations became popular around the world
The mural includes one of Australia’s first illuminated public sculptures, created years before such installations became popular around the world.
‘Tunnel Vision’ features imagery of original Aboriginal occupancy, the First Fleet’s arrival and today’s multicultural Sydney and was painted by artist Tim Guider in 1996.
‘It’s a portrait of Sydney,’ Mr Guider said. ‘And now they want to destroy it.’
Several Aboriginal artists and 14 students from Woolloomooloo’s Plunkett Street Public School also contributed to the mural, which took three months to create.
‘With all my public artworks I’ve invited Aboriginal participation,’ Mr Guider said. ‘I would not have created that public artwork without Aboriginal involvement.’
‘I really like the fact that the mural is a combination of cultures.’
At the Hyde Park entrance to the walkway is a wall sculpture which shows a First Fleet ship tethered to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which merges with the Sydney Opera House.
The most startling element of the work is an elderly Aboriginal man portrayed holding onto the steelwork of the bridge as if gripping the bars of a prison cell.
The mural has been defaced with graffiti which Mr Guider has offered to repair but no one has been prepared to pay for that or to even guarantee the work will survive
Tim Guider created Tunnel Vision in 1996 with the help of several Aboriginal artists and students from Plunkett Street Primary School at Woolloomooloo
The mural also shows other Aboriginal motifs, children of various races playing together, beach scenes, inner-city housing, stands of gum trees and a Van Gogh-inspired night sky.
Mr Guider did not believe those responsible for the mural’s maintenance understood the work or cared if it was destroyed.
‘They’ve got no idea what that mural’s really about,’ Mr Guider said.
‘A five-year-old could relate to those images and so could a university professor. It has multiple layers. It reaches people on those different levels.’
One of the reasons Mr Guider originally took on the project was that he believed its location would protect it from damage.
‘I jumped at this one because it was underground,’ he said. ‘I knew it would last for years and years and years.’
The mural has been defaced with graffiti which Mr Guider has offered to repair but no one has been prepared to pay for that or to even guarantee the work will survive.
‘They’re not allowing me to fix the graffiti and it’s reached an absolutely obscene level,’ Mr Guider said.
The mural also shows commuter, children of various races playing together, beach scenes, inner-city housing, stands of gum trees, Aboriginal motifs and a Van Gogh-inspired night sky
Artist Tim Guider does not believe those responsible for the mural’s maintenance understand the work or care if it is destroyed
‘I wouldn’t care if it wasn’t my mural and it’s artistic merit wasn’t that great. It’s part of our cultural history and we really need to preserve public artwork.
‘If they want to destroy part of Sydney’s cultural history I’ll fight them in court. I’m hoping to doesn’t come to that.’
Mr Guider said the children who had helped paint sections of the mural would now be aged in their 30s and deserved to see their work live on.
‘They’ve probably got kids they take there and show them, “This is what I did when I was your age”,’ he said.
Tim Guider is an internationally acclaimed artist who has struggled to find local financial support for his work
Mr Guider noted that four huge murals he painted at Long Bay jail between 1986 and 1988 while he was serving a sentence for bank robbery were heritage listed and had been treated with far more respect than his Domain artwork.
The 66-year-old is the younger brother of Michael Guider, who was released last year after serving 17 years for the 1986 manslaughter of nine-year-old Samantha Knight.
Tim has tried for years to have Michael reveal where he put the missing Bondi schoolgirl’s body.
In recent years Mr Guider has achieved international acclaim in the art world, winning a gold medal for two large light sculptures he exhibited in the 2017 Florence Biennale Contemporary Art Award.
Despite that recognition he had repeatedly been unsuccessful when applying for local financial support for his sculptures.
Mr Guider told Daily Mail Australia he had sought permission to remove the graffiti on Tunnel Vision and restore the mural but no one wanted to take responsibility for the artwork.
The Domain Express Walkway’s landlord is the Royal Botanic Garden and the parking station’s tenant is Wilson Parking.
Mr Guider believed if the mural were removed it would be replaced by billboard advertising.
The walkway was built to link the Domain Car Park near Woolloomoloo Bay to the northern end of Hyde Park. At the Hyde Park end it can be entered near St Mary’s Cathedral in Prince Prince Albert Road (above) and from the other side of College Street
Tim Guider painted four enormous murals at Long Bay prison between 1986 and 1988 while he was serving a sentence for bank robbery. Mr Guider says those murals have been better maintained than his work in the Domain Express Walkway
‘Of course it would be,’ he said. ‘It’s just not on. Public art is not about money.’
Mr Guider has spoken to a City of Sydney officer who ‘made it clear to me that the Royal Botanic Garden and the city are also discussing the option of removing the mural.’
Mr Guider works on his light sculpture ‘Enlightenment’ which won a 2017 Florence Biennale Contemporary Art Award gold medal
‘This option was raised five years ago by the previous tenant when they applied to the city via a DA to replace the mural with billboard advertising.
‘The city then denied their request.’
Mr Guider said the illuminated part of the work was known around the world and featured near the top of Google searches for ‘contemporary light sculpture installations’.
He said supporters of the mural had written to Lord Mayor Clover Moore and others expressing their concerns about the mural’s removal.
‘I’ve asked Clover to rescue the mural by footing the bill to restore it,’ Mr Guider said. ‘In 25 years they’ve never spent a cent on it.’
Alan Limbury, a mediator and arbitrator who first alerted Mr Guider to the current state of the mural, has written to Councillor Moore and said he expected her to be supportive.
‘The mural is a very important work of art and its preservation and ongoing maintenance are important for the people of Sydney,’ Mr Limbury wrote.
‘The graffiti needs to be removed and the painting restored. Any support you can give for the mural’s preservation would be appreciated.’
Councillor Moore had in turn written to Mr Guider to say she was ‘very concerned’ about the threat to the mural.
Mr Guider has spoken to a City of Sydney officer who ‘made it clear to me that the Royal Botanic Garden and the city are also discussing the option of removing the mural’
Most moving walkways are now found in airports and the Domain structure (pictured) is still touted as the longest in the Southern Hemisphere. Separate walkways run side-by-side in each direction through a tunnel. Standing still, the journey takes about five minutes
A spokeswoman for the City of Sydney referred inquiries about the mural to the Royal Botanic Garden because it owned the walkway and had responsibility for the artwork.
A spokeswoman for the Royal Botanic Garden said the mural’s fate was unsure.
‘The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is one of a number of stakeholders in the mural by artist Tim Guider in the Domain,’ the spokeswoman said.
‘No decision has been made by the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney about the mural and all parties including the artist will be consulted in regard to the mural.’
A spokeswoman for Wilson Parking said any decision regarding the mural rested with the City of Sydney and the Royal Botanic Garden.
‘The City and the Gardens are in discussions on the best way forward in respect of the mural and the artist will be contacted to discuss options in due course,’ the spokeswoman said.
DOMAIN EXPRESS WALKWAY WAS ONCE LONGEST IN THE WORLD
The Domain Express Walkway (above) is still one of the longest travelators in the world
The 207 metre long Domain Express Walkway was the longest travelator in the world when it opened almost 60 years ago.
Every day it moves thousands of commuters between the Domain and the central business district, where there are two entry points near St Mary’s Cathedral.
Most moving walkways are now found in airports and the Domain structure is still touted as the longest in the Southern Hemisphere.
Separate walkways run side-by-side in each direction through a tunnel. Standing still, the journey takes about five minutes.
The walkway was built to link the Domain Car Park near Woolloomoloo Bay to the northern end of Hyde Park.
At the Hyde Park end it can be entered near St Mary’s Cathedral in Prince Prince Albert Road and from the other side of College Street.
The Domain Car Park was opened in June 1961 at a time when motor vehicle ownership was rapidly increasing.
Its walkway was expected to be just the first of many similar underground travelators which would move commuters into and around the city centre but no more were built.
While the travelator initially proved hugely popular, it was and is a rumbling and noisy journey, and the novelty value soon wore off.
Much like today’s Sydney light rail the walkway was also the subject of intense media interest whenever anything went wrong.
Children were reported getting their fingers caught in the handrail and men had their trousers ripped after getting their cuffs snagged at the end of the footway.
The walkway was refurbished in the 1990s when parts were replaced by a company which manufactures mining conveyor belts.