Alexander Mitchell’s paste up of hands and a serpent off Russell Place is a beautiful large-scale work that has deteriorated to some degree due to the natural elements. The extensive damage to the piece makes it very difficult to return it to its original condition when considering restoration. Thus, the paste up is left to erode naturally.
The process of restoration is to return a work to its former or original condition. In the realm of street art it might mean the removal of tags or defacing graffiti or in this case the repairing or replacement of paper. Following this, conservation by a Perspex covering or a seal may be applied to protect the work. However, the restoration of artworks requires the commissioning of a restorer or conservator, which comes at a great cost.
Given the fast pace and ever changing nature of street art it would be far too costly to expect works, no matter how loved, to be constantly maintained. Some artists are able to preserve their works by keeping the original designs or stencils in their studios. These are often closely protected, as artists fear theft and thus forgeries of their works.
Mitchell, along with a number of other Melbourne street artists, is represented by Backwoods Gallery in Collingwood who sell original works and prints. In working alongside a commercial gallery, artists are able to prolong the life of their works and series by allowing pieces to enter the commercial art market.