Whilst the saint originated as a prank from a group of James Cook University students it has now become a city icon pictured on the front of the telephone book, used as JCU pins and featuring in a number of local business advertisements. The saint is even commented on throughout many Townsville tourist sites.
Below is an article from 2001 outlining the public’s opinion…
Public response backs Townsville’s saint.
The Saint – a matchstick graffiti figure dominating the Townsville landscape from atop Castle Hill in the city’s centre – should stay, according to submissions to the Queensland Heritage Council.
The Heritage Council has received an application from the Townsville City Council to remove the five-metre-high painting, inspired by the symbol used in the Lesley Charteris books of that name.
But the figure forms part of the heritage listing of Castle Hill in the Queensland Heritage Register, which is administered on behalf of the Queensland Heritage Council by the Environmental Protection Agency.
EPA Cultural Heritage Unit Acting Manager Ray Osborne said the Heritage Council consequently invited the public to express its views on the proposal to remove The Saint, estimated to be about 35 years old.
“There may be one or two more submissions still in the pipeline, but so far we have received seven, including one petition of 66 signatures,” Mr Osborne said.
“Only one believes The Saint should be removed. The remainder all wholeheartedly wants to keep it.”
The only submission opposing the Saint’s retention said: “… international visitors and interstate visitors must consider Townsville community thinking in this day and age, when presented with such an obvious in-your-face piece of graffiti.”
Pro-Saint comments include:
“… sacred site [that] should remain untouched by our [City] Council.”
“… a significant feature of the local cultural landscape, having social, historical and aesthetic significance to members of the local community.”
“A prominent legal firm, established in Townsville in 1890, features the cliff face with “The Saint” in a current television advertisement.”
“… continues to play a significant role in defining Townsville’s community identity.”
“This icon is a tourist attraction and is often used in tourist promotions.”
“… to remove “The Saint” would be cultural vandalism.”
“The Queensland Heritage Council Development Committee is expected to consider the Townsville City Council application in the light of these submissions at its next meeting, on Thursday, January 17,” Mr Osborne said.
Released by: Environmental Protection Agency
I think that the ‘saint’ began as graffiti but the meaning people have given to the saint and they way in which the saint now represents Townsville an icon has evolved it into public art. I think that it is up to the public to decide if they want the saint to stay or go. Personally I have never seen the hill without this icon and could not imagine it without it.