Readers of the County Press will see on page 8 today that a piece of street art attributed to Banksy was recently removed by the Isle of Wight council.
VB reader Tracey Hall got in touch with us to tell us the story of the ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ artwork discovered in Shanklin.
After she spotted it on her way home from work one day, she got in touch with a guy called Steve who, as well as running the excellent ‘Art of the State‘ Website, is a bit of an aficionado on Banksy’s work.
Banksy wall becomes blank wall
Steve was so keen to capture the artwork that he did a 120 mile round trip to Shanklin to photograph the superb piece of public art for his Website.
Unfortunately, when he arrived, he discovered that the artwork had been painted and was met with a blank wall.
He got back in touch with Tracey and told her that according to speculation on his Website, there may have been two other Banksy artworks done around the same time.
He links to the rather excellent Wooster Collective Website which has shots of the three pieces.
I Love You
Ventnorians will no doubt remember seeing I Love You painted in red on the High Street building next to the BT exchange.
This artwork survived perhaps two or three weeks before being painted over.
The other piece allegedly done by Banksy, possibly during his visit to the Island is a piece called No Future.
We have no idea where this is or whether it remains in tact. If you’ve seen it or know more, let us know.
Distinction between art and graffiti
Personally, we believe pieces of street art like those above should be preserved.
They are artistic observations on life and in our view, add value and interest to an area.
The Isle of Wight council justify painting over the artwork because,
“We are not art critics. We have a duty to remove unauthorized graffiti.”
Update 17.29: This statement received from the council in relation to the Banksy art pieces on the Island
Zoryna O’Donnell, Isle of Wight Council Head of Community Safety, said:
“We are not the first local authority to remove Banksy’s work from council property and I’m sure won’t be the last. As a council, we are not art critics, we have a duty to remove unauthorised graffiti, especially following complaints from residents, as was the case in Shanklin.”
“We have undertaken a number of community art projects in the past and would welcome the opportunity to work with Banksy or anyone else who can make a positive contribution to the Island’s street scene in the future.”
Phil Barton, Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive, takes a more flexible approach to it saying,
“The more common ‘tagging’ is seen as offensive, blighting the environment and leading to an increased fear of crime but the more community-based art is seen in a different light.
“The problem is the so-called ‘nice’ graffiti – like Banksy’s Keep Britain Tidy image – accounts for less than one per cent of all graffiti and, of course, depending on where it is may cause significant problems for the property owner.
“Many councils now look for innovative ways of dealing with grafitti and we support this. It can be a powerful way to engage with children and young people in their local communities.”
Show some innovation
So come on Isle of Wight Council, we’re sure you have it in you to get innovative.
If the last Banksy piece hasn’t been destroyed yet, preserve it!
Blank wall image: Tracey Hall
Banksy images: © Wooster Collective