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Here’s everything you need to know about the repainting of Akse’s iconic Ian Curtis mural

The iconic mural featuring Joy Division's enigmatic frontman, Ian Curtis, has been lovingly restored to Manchester's Star and Garter pub.
Ian Curtis

This resurrection comes on the heels of an unfortunate incident last year when the mural was unexpectedly replaced by an Amazon Music advertisement promoting an Aitch album.

With the street artist Akse finally securing planning permission for the mural’s revival, a new masterpiece now graces the side of The Star and Garter pub next to Piccadilly Railway Station.

The original mural was painted by street artist Akse in October 2020, to mark World Mental Health Day and support Manchester Mind, Help Musicians and promote the 24/7 wellbeing text service Shout.

The much-loved mural even prompted a second one in Macclesfield, Ian Curtis’ hometown.

The Artistic Resurrection

The mural’s unexpected erasure in 2022 caused widespread anger and condemnation from across Manchester and the music world.

The passionate response from the public hugely highlighted the profound connection between communities and public art.

Fortunately, the original artist, Akse, was part of the growing chorus of discontent, calling for the mural to be re-instated.

They broke the news on social media. “So my mural of Ian Curtis based on the original photograph by @philippecarly has been painted over to promote the release of a new album,” he wrote on Instagram.

“It had become a cultural landmark and meant so much to people from Manchester and beyond. It doesn’t take much common sense to understand that this mural should have remained for what it represented and stood for.”

A Symbolic Unveiling on World Suicide Prevention Day

The timing of the mural’s unveiling is especially poignant, coinciding with World Suicide Prevention Day, observed globally on September 10th.

This choice highlights the mural’s powerful message of hope, resilience, and mental health awareness.

The mural is based on a photograph taken by Philippe Carly of Ian Curtis taken a year before his suicide.

The mural, with its powerful message of hope, resilience, and mental health awareness, resonates deeply with the memory of Ian Curtis, who tragically took his own life in 1980.

Acknowledgement and Apology

When news initially broke of the mural’s inadvertent destruction, Aitch, whose album advertisement had replaced it, swiftly issued an apology and expressed his commitment to rectify the situation.

In fairness to Aitch, he was very quick off the mark to condemn the replacement.

Speaking to his followers on social media, he said: “This is the first time I’ve heard of this,” he tweeted.

“Me and my team are getting this fixed pronto,” he continued.

“No way on Earth would I want to disrespect a local hero like Ian,”

New Order’s Bernard Sumner also weighed in, emphasising the importance of setting things right, and Peter Hook commended Aitch for his support in getting it re-instated.

Peaky Blinders director Anthony Byrne called for it to be “reinstated and left there permanently” and local group Manchester Music Forever shared that they were “absolutely disgusted”.

A Tribute to Mental Health Awareness

It’s worth noting that the original mural was originally created as part of a mental health awareness initiative with support from Manchester City Council.

Akse, the artist, highlighted on social media the mural’s significance, describing it as a cultural landmark that held deep meaning for both Mancunians and admirers from beyond the city’s borders.

The mural’s restoration underscores the importance of nurturing conversations around mental health and offering a symbol of hope to those in need.

A Cultural Landmark Reinstated

The mural is not merely a work of art; it represents a huge piece of Manchester’s cultural heritage

Originally conceived for World Mental Health Day in 2020, its unexpected replacement by an advertisement sparked public outrage and underscored its profound cultural value to residents and visitors alike.

Its return now signifies the resilience of artistic expression and the enduring legacy of Ian Curtis and Joy Division.

As the Ian Curtis mural graces the side of the Star and Garter pub it serves as a reminder of the unwavering power of art to inspire, heal, and unite.

On World Suicide Prevention Day, this masterpiece sends a powerful message of hope and solidarity, reaffirming the importance of addressing mental health challenges in our communities.

The mural’s journey from adversity to resurrection is a testament to the dedication of individuals like Akse, the support of public figures like Aitch, and the enduring cultural significance of icons like Ian Curtis.

If you need help for your mental health, please do not hesitate to get in touch with these amazing Manchester-based charities:

Manchester Mind

Help Musicians

The 24/7 wellbeing text service Shout

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