Manchester Rapper Aitch Apologizes for Painting Over Mural of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis

Manchester Rapper Aitch
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Manchester Rapper Aitch
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Photo Credit: David Dixon / CC by 2.0

Manchester rapper Aitch has formally apologized for painting over a mural of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis.

The ad for rapper Aitch’s new album Close to Home went up Wednesday on Port Street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, just before the album’s release on Friday. The Manchester native tweeted that he was unaware the ad would be placed over the mural portrait of late Joy Division singer Ian Curtis. He promised to get the situation corrected “pronto,” while his management posted that they had been in touch with the mural’s artist to recommission the original.

“It’s come to light that the iconic Ian Curtis mural on Port Street has been painted over with my album artwork,” tweets Aitch. “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.” 

Joy Division bassist Peter Hook replied on Twitter, “Thank you.”

Ian Curtis committed suicide in 1980 at age 23. The two albums and multiple tracks he recorded as the singer of Joy Division have inspired decades of artists that have come after. The remaining members of Joy Division continued to release music as New Order.

The mural of Curtis was unveiled in October 2020, painted by graffiti artist Akse P19 from a photo by Philippe Carly. Manchester City Council commissioned the mural to support mental health awareness. The initiative also promotes @giveusashoutinsta, a free text messaging service to help those with mental health issues.

“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,” Akse P19 posted on Instagram about the incident. “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.”

“It had become a cultural landmark and meant so much to people from Manchester and beyond,” Akse continued. “It doesn’t take much common sense to understand that this mural should have remained for what it represented and stood for.”