In the latest twist to the saga surrounding the town centre’s Churchill mural, the artist who painted it claims he was never paid by the council-backed gallery who commissioned him. By KEN TOWL
David Hollier, the artist who painted the mural of Churchill on the corner of Park Street in Croydon town centre, says he would be very happy to paint over it with a more suitable and relevant mural – provided that this time he gets paid.
Hollier made the startling claim that he was never paid for his Churchill after seeing Inside Croydon’s report earlier this week which highlighted the three-petition squabble over the fate of the mural.
The Churchill mural appeared overnight in 2016 after the council and building owners had granted permission to use the site.
It was commissioned by the Rise Gallery, whose owner Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison received a series of grants and an £80,000 sponsorship from Croydon Council and Croydon BID, the business improvement district, supposedly towards the costs of street art and festivals.
But in 2018, Zuchowski-Morrison was declared bankrupt after he failed to pay bills to one service supplier for his council-backed Rise Festival.
Now it seems that Hollier’s name can be added to a growing list of figures from the art world – including Banksy – who have been left out-of-pocket or regretting having had dealings with Zuchowski-Morrison.
The Croydon petitions against Hollier’s Churchill mural came about after a statue to a slave-owner had been hauled down during a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol, and the former Prime Minister’s statue in Parliament Square had been daubed with paint.
British-born Hollier says he was told that the petitions to remove the Churchill mural had been started by Croydon residents, and that he was unaware that they had in fact been started by councillor Chris Clark and his erstwhile colleague, Niro Sirisena, until he’d read the Inside Croydon article.
The artist has been quoted as describing Churchill as “a racist warmonger”. Reports have also quoted Zuchowski-Morrison as claiming that he paid for the Churchill mural.
Hollier’s exasperation with local politicians is palpable.
He was commissioned to fly over from his Brooklyn home to paint the Churchill mural, featuring the “We shall fight them on the beaches” speech that helped to set Britain’s resolve against the Nazi threat. He was asked to do so after an earlier work, of aviation pioneer Amy Johnson, on another Croydon wall, was damaged beyond repair.
Hollier is now suggesting a petition of his own – “To replace the Churchill portrait with one of Kate Moss, the Croydon-born model, but this time they pay the artist for doing it!”
As Hollier concedes, “Nobody gave a crap about my opinion when I did the first one, why would they now?”
In the meantime, Hollier remains busy with his work and getting paid for it.
At the weekend he painted Bob Marley using the text of “One Love” on the wall of the Jamaica Kitchen in Mount Vernon, Westchester in New York state, and on Sunday night he produced a Black Lives Matter “protest peace”, exhorting American citizens not to vote for the racist Donald Trump.
Croydon is the London Borough of Culture 2023.
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