When George Davis won a competition to design a mural outside Hobart’s former ABC television studios in 1960, he never thought it would still be there today.
- In 1960, George Davis designed a mural made up of 150,000 tiles on the then ABC TV studios
- The building will be demolished, but the mural will be placed on the new development
- Mr Davis and his daughter, actress Essie Davis, are pleased the “great work of art” will be preserved
Made up of 150,000 Italian glass mosaic tiles, the mural covers 19 metres along the side of the building on Sandy Bay Road.
“The actual making of the mural took a long, long time. I had all of the central figures laid out on a huge purpose-built table,” Mr Davis said.
“I’m very, very pleased that it’s still there and will outlast me.”
On Monday night, the Hobart City Council overwhelmingly voted to demolish the building and build two residential blocks containing 45 apartments, communal spaces and a cafe.
The building belongs to the Fragrance Group, which bought it from the University of Tasmania in 2017.
But the tiled mural, which is permanently listed on the Tasmanian Heritage Register, is set to be maintained on the streetscape as part of the new development.
“It is heritage-listed and I’ve been assured that it will be underpinned,” Mr Davis said.
He said losing the mural would have been “devastating”.
His daughter, Tasmanian actress Essie Davis, said she thought the mural was “a great work of art”.
“I’ve always been extremely proud of my father’s work. He’s an extremely fine artist, master draftsman and a colourist, observer of nature and humankind,” she said.
“I think if you make a great work of art like that, you expect it to be forever because that’s how we remember culture.”
The ABC began planning to move studios in the early 1980s, and the future of the mural was placed under threat.
Former ABC Tasmania newsreader Peter Gee worked in the building for six years.
“The newsroom was up on the fourth floor, and the studio was down on the ground floor,” he said.
“Production people and those with the scripts for the newsreader on the floor had to belt down the stairs normally, because the lift was pretty unreliable and very slow.”
He said even though the ABC’s connection with the building ended many years ago, the mural would stay on representing what was once there.
“The ABC will always be tied to it, and the mural will stay, so at least there is something from the artistic side of this building’s history that will always stay there,” he said.