The Ashburton Art Gallery prefers to display its artworks on the inside of the building.
Unfortunately, someone decided to show off their ‘artistic talents’ on the southern wall of the building with an act of vandalism by adding an unwanted art installation.
And for the ratepayers, it is an unwanted waste of money to clean it up.
“Disappointingly, it is graffiti, not art,” Ashburton District Council group manager community services Steve Fabish said.
“Staff have reported the intentional damage to police and the culprit can be seen on CCTV at 4am on November 9.
Public buildings all over the country are targets for graffiti and Ashburton is not immune, he said.
“It is our policy to remove graffiti as soon as it is reported as this discourages more.”
The art gallery staff had attempted to remove the graffiti with turpentine, Fabish said, but stopped for fear of damaging the special surface on the gallery’s external wall.
It has now been painted over.
“Graffiti is frustrating for us and an unnecessary cost for our ratepayers, particularly when that budget could be better spent on maintenance and improvements to our facilities.”
Determining the annual cost of graffiti on council property is challenging Fabish said, as some clean-up costs are absorbed into existing budgets and contracts.
It is the latest incident in an increasing trend that had the council take the drastic action in September of closing some public toilets at night in an attempt to deter vandals that have been targeting facilities.
The move came after the council reported that twice a week over several months the staff cleaning the public toilets at Argyle Park and East Street had arrived to find graffiti on the walls or soap dispensers ripped from their fittings, and toilet paper strewn about.
A fire was even deliberately lit in one cubicle at the Ashburton Domain playground.
“Closing some public toilets at night means vandals no longer have access to them, so graffiti at those public conveniences has reduced,” Fabish said.
“We will continue to close these overnight, as residents end up paying for vandalism through their rates.”
Public toilets open as usual are the ones near the domain entrance, which are well used by the travelling public, the East Street disabled access toilet and a toilet block at the Ashburton cemetery.
- Jonathan Leask