It was proclaimed as a masterpiece, a brilliant building sized portrait undertaken in the "Paris End" of Collins Street, Melbourne. The mainstream media ran the story and it seemed that Melbourne had started to appreciate the treasure of public street art. Out of its back laneways and into the thoroughfare. Suddenly very acceptable. A maturing perhaps of attitudes with a new openness to use of public space in different ways.
The image itself was vivid. One wonders how the artist was able to instil such reality in a painting of that size, working in what must have been pretty difficult conditions. The building, with its odd shape and surroundings, certainly couldn't have helped at all.
Alas, the artwork was short lived. When you walk or tram along Collins Street now you will struggle to even identify the building on which the portrait appeared. The whole area, including the little Church of Secular Coffee, has become a building zone. Making way for new and no doubt impressive buildings, the portrait has disappeared.
Such is the nature of street art I guess. Here one day, gone the next. Painted over by other artists, removed by local council workers or in this case fallen victim to progress and the accompanying demolition company.
I can't help but wonder whether the artist knew that would be the case when he committed to making the portrait. Did he know that it was only ever going to be temporary, for such a very short time? Was it worth his efforts to have work on such a beautiful image that would last for a few short months?
Perhaps that's part of the attraction, the excitement, the energy that comes from public street art. It simply won't last forever.