The bassist and co-founder of New Order cut the ribbon alongside Akse, the Manchester-based street artist who painted the mural, telling those in attendance: “I am actually very honoured to be here, and to do this, because to me it’s about time Ian came home.”
The mural, funded by Cheshire East Council, is based on an original photograph taken by Kevin Cummins at The Factory/Russell Club in Hulme, Manchester on 13 July 1979. It adorns a building on Mill Street opposite Macclesfield bus station.
Ahead of the unveiling, Curtis said earlier in the week: “I’m watching all the people going down the street and every single one of them is drawn to it.
“Some young kids walking down had no idea who he was but now they do. Hopefully they’ll listen to the music and get the gist of what we were trying to do as kids.”
Some of Akse’s other recent works include murals of the late British army officer and fundraiser Captain Tom Moore and Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford.
He said it was an honour to paint the portrait of Curtis and hoped local people were excited about it.
“Although I’ve been working on murals most of my life, it’s still always an incredible feeling to get to the end of the journey – well the end of my journey at least,” Akse said. “Now it’s time for the people of Macclesfield to enjoy the mural, as I know how much Ian meant to so many of them.”
— Joy Division & New Order Pics (@JDNOPICS) March 26, 2022
Councillor Nick Mannion, chair of the authority’s economy and growth committee, said: “Before today, I spoke about how perhaps this beautiful mural has been somewhat overdue but now that I’m here seeing it for myself for the first time, I can say without any doubt that it has truly been worth the wait.
“I am a huge fan of Joy Division – the cultural significance of the band and Ian stretches well beyond my home town of Macclesfield. This is such a proud moment, I’m feeling very emotional about it right now.”
Curtis, who was brought up in the town and is buried in Macclesfield Cemetery, was the lead singer of Joy Division until his death in May 1980 at the age of 23.
The film was directed by Anton Corbijn, who worked closely with the band as a photographer, and was released in 2007.