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Manchester’s Ian Curtis mural replaced by ad for rapper Aitch

The site of the former Ian Curtis mural. Akse/Instagram

Manchester’s music fans and street art lovers alike are unhappy after the much-loved mural of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis, on Port Street in the Northern Quarter, was covered over on Tuesday (August 16).

The black and white image of Curtis, created by street artist Akse in October 2020, made way for an ad for rapper, McDonald’s brand ambassador and fellow Mancunian Aitch’s new album Close to Home.

Akse’s original work was based on an iconic photo of the Transmission singer performing live, by photographer Philippe Carly. It was initally unveiled to mark the music and wellbeing festival Headstock.

Akse wrote on Instagram on Tuesday evening: “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, personally I don’t have anything against hand-painted advertising as this is how I make a living, but this mural was painted in collaboration with @headstockuk and supported by @manchestercitycouncil and @sweetnothingmcr to raise awareness for Mental Health and support @giveusashoutinsta a free text messaging services to help people with mental health issues, 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 — #iancurtis #joydivision #mentalhealth #shout #headstock #manchester.”

Manchester City Council’s city centre spokesperson Pat Karney told the MEN on Tuesday night: “People will have wanted this mural to stay there for a few more years, and my view is that the artwork should have stayed there too. If it is being replaced by an advert, they can be displayed anywhere around the city.

Social media was understandably full of fury on Tuesday night, but support for Joy Division’s livid fans came from a perhaps unexpected source – the chart-bothering rapper Aitch himself.

The Straight Rhymez performer took to Twitter late on Tuesday and said: “It’s come to light that the iconic Ian Curtis mural on Port Street has been painted over with my album artwork. This is the first time I’ve heard of this, me and my team are getting this fixed pronto. No way on earth would I want to disrespect a local hero like Ian.”

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