A mural for the late Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis has returned to the streets of Manchester one year after it was covered up. The tribute to the Stretford-born and Macclesfield-raised musician was created by local artist Akse in 2020 and was located on the side of a house on Port Street in the Northern Quarter.
However, in August last year the mural was painted over and replaced with an advertisement of rapper Aitch‘s debut album ‘Close To Home’. The move led to widespread criticism at the time, as the artwork was originally created in collaboration with music and mental wellbeing festival Headstock to honour the artist who lost his life to suicide in 1980, spread awareness on World Mental Health Day and promote 24/7 wellbeing text service Shout.
Aitch himself was equally shocked by the erasure of the iconic tribute, taking to Twitter to assure people he was unaware of the decision and the situation would be rectified.
“It’s come to light that the iconic Ian Curtis mural on Port Street has been painted over with my album artwork. This is the first time I’ve heard of this, me and my team are getting this fixed pronto. No way on earth would I want to disrespect a local hero like Ian.”
But now, a near-identical mural has been painted in a new home after it was revealed the original location could no longer be used. Orion Heritage, on behalf of Headstock, submitted proposals in the summer for the “installation of a mural depicting Ian Curtis of Joy Division to the gable wall of the Grade II listed Star and Garter Public House on Fairfield Street”.
In the design and access statement, the applicant said the overpainting with a music advertisement in August 2022 led to a “public outcry within the Manchester community and the wider music community”. The search for an alternate wall, ideally within the Northern Quarter began in later August 2022, with the Star and Garter pub near Piccadilly station offered as a prospective site. Images show the mural as near-identical to the original mural, and painted by the same artist, Akse.
The iconic status of the artwork and its association with the city’s identity also led to a second Ian Curtis mural in Macclesfield. There is also a specially commissioned mural of Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis on the interior of Northern Quarter venue, Disorder, a bar and restaurant inspired by the band.
The mural is now complete and can be found on the side of the Star and Garter pub on Fairfield Street, near Depot Mayfield.