GONE: A mural of Australian icon Steve Irwin, painted in 2015 by American artist Mark Paul Deren, has been painted over to make way for a new development.
GONE: A mural of Australian icon Steve Irwin, painted in 2015 by American artist Mark Paul Deren, has been painted over to make way for a new development. Tom Gillespie

EXPLAINED: Why owner had to paint over Steve Irwin mural

THE Toowoomba businessman who painted over a massive mural of Australian legend Steve Irwin has explained why he had to cover it up.

Electrical contractor Mark Renner caused a stir this week among the Toowoomba community when he erased the artwork from the side of 1 Neil St, a building he owned.

Mr Renner said plans to renovate the property for his new business Switchboard in a Box forced his hand on the issue, since the changes would've removed Mr Irwin's head.

He said he had great respect for Mr Irwin's legacy and believed he had honoured his memory by keeping the mural up for much longer than was required.

"I have the utmost respect for Steve Irwin," he said.

"I gave this community four years for the side of the building - I only needed to have it up for 12 months.

"That side of the building is being renovated on the top and on the side.

"I contacted the council and Grace Dewar (founder of First Coat Festival) to explain the situation.

"I didn't desecrate Steve Irwin - the building here is just being renovated."

Mr Renner also said there were no plans to put his business' signs on the side of the building in place of the art.

"I support our community and I wouldn't desecrate it for the sake of it - I have the utmost respect for it," he said.

Artist Mark Paul Deren painted the mural in 2015 for the First Coat Festival.


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