Mirka Mora mural at Tolarno to be uncovered and preserved
SEPTEMBER 12 2016 - 2:43PM Hannah Francis
The renovations at the former Tolarno restaurant in August. Photo: Hannah Francis
Heritage Victoria has ordered a St Kilda restaurant to take down a wall it built in front of a heritage-listed mural by artist Mirka Mora following an investigation by The Age.
The owners of pasta restaurant chain Sauced were renovating the front dining room of the Fitzroy Street restaurant, formerly Tolarno, when local residents raised the alarm.
A lattice-like wall was erected a few inches in front of the mural, obscuring at least a third of the work, which was heritage-listed in 2009.
Heritage Victoria engaged art conservator Sabine Cotte, who is writing a PhD on Ms Mora's painting techniques, to inspect the renovations. The organisation determined "not all the works undertaken had been approved by Heritage Victoria".
Co-owners Ben Thompson and Sylvan Spatarel had been granted an external permit for renovations to the window, but not the inside of the room.
Mr Thompson said the second wall had now been taken down under Ms Cotte's supervision. Ms Cotte said she had erected a temporary covering so the mural was not damaged, and would oversee measures to further preserve it.
While there was some flaking in parts of the mural, that damage had existed prior to Sauced taking over the lease, she said. "The main thing is there's no damage done to the mural."