Banksy made his name through graffiti artwork, but now one of Banksy’s murals has had to be rescued – from graffiti.
Two fans of the secretive guerrilla artist are spending thousands of pounds to restore a giant artwork called Large Graffiti Slogan, after vandals ‘defaced’ it with spray paint.
A team of builders cut out the three-ton section of reinforced concrete wall carrying the street art.
Nick Loizou, a 30-year-old graphic designer and builder, and Bradley Ridge, a 31-year-old restaurateur, hope to sell the piece once it has been restored to its former glory.
Banksy painted the mural in an industrial estate just outside Croydon, South London, in August.
It depicts a punk with a mohican haircut reading an instruction booklet beside a cardboard box emblazoned with ‘IEAK Large Graffiti Slogan’.
However, since it was created, less artistic ‘taggers’ – who deface buildings and walls with their ‘signatures’ – have left their marks on the mural.
Mr Ridge said: ‘Banksy did it in broad daylight, at 2pm on a Saturday on a busy industrial estate. Lots of people saw him but no one realised who he was, or that they had a star in their midst.
‘To begin with we thought we would nick the mural,’ he joked. ‘We thought we could cut the Banksy off the wall, flop it on to a mattress and take it away.
‘That wasn’t possible so we thought better of it, and decided to try to save it.’ With the backing of the owners of the wall, concrete company Hanson Premix, Mr Ridge and Mr Loizou drew up their plans to rescue it.
The operation was complicated when the team of labourers, carpenters and bricklayers discovered the wall was made of reinforced concrete, not brick as they had assumed
They spent nine days preparing the wall before it was taken away in a pre-dawn operation on Thursday. During the nine days someone slept by it every night for protection.
The removal operation and restoration work will cost thousands.
According to Mr Ridge, Banksy himself has given his blessing to the project through an intermediary, saying: ‘Well done and good luck.’
However, the mural has not been formally identified as a Banksy because his representatives never certify his street art.
But it appears on the artist’s website and the same punk character has appeared in an official Banksy exhibition at Bristol Museum.
The future of the mural, once restored, is uncertain. ‘We have a couple of options,’ said Mr Loizou.
‘We really want to sell it to a gallery or a museum so the maximum number of people can enjoy it.
‘But if we can’t do that, there is always eBay.’
Banksy’s works can fetch substantial sums and have attracted a number of celebrity collectors. In 2006 Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie spent £200,000 at his Los Angeles show.
Although Banksy has attempted to remain anonymous, a Mail on Sunday investigation last year unearthed compelling evidence that he is 34-year-old former public schoolboy Robin Gunningham.
Banksy Prints on Canvas
"Banksy Canvas prints"
Banksy graffiti destoyed.
- In December 2008 a Banksy image of a diver in a duffle coat in Melbourne Australia was vandalised. The image was protected by a sheet of clear perspex, however silver paint was poured behind the protective sheet and then tagged with the words "Banksy woz ere". It is thought the image has been destroyed.
- Londons Westminster City Council stated in October 2008 that the work "One Nation Under CCTV", painted in April 2008 will be painted over as it is graffiti. The council says it will remove any graffiti, regardless of the reputation of its creator, and specifically stated that Banksy has no more right to paint graffiti than a child. The work was painted over in April 2009.
Is Banksy graffiti ? - I think not! - as most "graffiti" that defaces are cities is a simple tag repeated
just like a cat, mindlessly marking out its territory.
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