Banksy’s most recent work has been dismantled by the authorities in Kent “on the grounds of safety” just hours after its unveiling.
The pseudonymous graffiti artist and activist took ownership of a recent artwork that cropped up in Margate, a seaside town on the north coast of Kent, England, by sharing a photo of the mural, titled ‘Valentine’s Day Mascara’, on his Instagram.
Banksy’s latest artwork highlights the issue of domestic violence. Along with the graffitied art, ‘Valentine’s Day Mascara’ incorporated a chest freezer, a blue crate, a broken chair, and an empty beer bottle.
The mural depicted a 1950s housewife wearing a checkered blue apron and yellow rubber gloves. One of her eyes is swollen shut and she also has a missing tooth. She appears to have shoved her male companion, and presumably her abuser, into the chest freezer.
The authorities had removed the chest freezer, chair, crate, and beer bottle from the graffiti site but had returned the items promptly, following public outrage.
The freezer was removed by the Kent authorities claiming that it would return “once it has been made safe”.
“A fridge freezer which is believed to have been part of the installation has been removed by council operatives on the grounds of safety as it was on public land,” read a statement from the authorities. The statement elaborated that the authorities would discuss options to preserve the artwork for the district with the property’s owner.
An expert valued Banksy’s ‘Valentine’s Day Mascara’ at £2 million, but only with the freezer included in the installation. This has caused the freezer to be removed once again, this time by a gallery that was called upon by the owners of the property to preserve the artwork.
“The only reason we’re taking it away is purely from a security perspective. We can’t have 24-hour security guards standing there, they were there until the Perspex (protective plastic sheet) was put up,” said Julian Usher, the chief executive of Red Eight Gallery, in an interview, “Now that’s up that’ll protect the piece, hopefully, from vandals or anyone marking or tagging the wall. The chest freezer is now back into storage and then we’re looking into, with the owner, what they want to do with it ultimately. Whether we can find something just to replace it in the meantime, which doesn’t matter if it goes missing, that is what we’re still looking into.”
What do you think of Banksy’s latest graffiti and the authorities’ response to it?