Historic mural celebrating the 1956 Olympics to be restored

By Brendan Rees

A 64-year-old mural commemorating the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne will be restored to its former glory.

The heritage-listed abstract mosaic artwork on the corner of Elizabeth and Flinders streets was created in 1955 by the late artist Richard Beck, a leading modernist graphic designer in Melbourne, who designed the only Melbourne Olympics poster. 

However, his most recognised work is the design of the label for Coonawarra wines which is still in use.

The Olympics artwork is considered a bold design with “pots clinking together” and the City of Melbourne announced it would invest $55,000 from its heritage restoration fund for a specialist conservator to restore the mural located at the former Hosie’s Hotel. 

City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the mural was of historical significance to Victoria and the restoration project was a chance “to protect this modernist architectural legacy”.

Conservation work to the four-storey mural is expected to take up to four weeks and will involve tiling and glazing.

The City of Melbourne’s heritage lead Cr Rohan Leppert said heritage restoration works were valuable but could also be expensive “which is why we are providing incentives for owners through the Melbourne heritage restoration fund”.

“Thousands of people pound the pavement underneath this artwork every day and may be surprised that the mural dates back to the 1956 Olympics. This work is all about recognising the places that have importance to us as a community,” Cr Leppert said.

“We have previously funded the restoration of a historical nautical weathervane at the Mission to Seafarers in Docklands and the reinstatement of decorative keystones on Alcaston House on Collins St.”

Last year the City of Melbourne recommended heritage protection for 55 post-war buildings built between 1945 and 1975 identified in the Hoddle Grid Heritage Review, including Hosie’s Hotel.

More than $130,000 in grant funding remains available for restoration works in the City of Melbourne.

Hosie’s Hotel and the Graham Hotel in Swanston St were two buildings built to provide modern accommodation for the 1956 Olympic Games •

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