A British council has offered to remove and relocate the latest artwork by the infamous Banksy, after the owner of its public canvas admitted to losing sleep over protecting the graffiti from vandalism.
The street artist’s latest piece appeared on a garage wall in December in the Welsh town of Port Talbot, a town famous for its high levels of pollution.
Ian Lewis, 55, owns the garage wall, and therefore, the artwork. He says he’s become the accidental manager of an art attraction.
The piece is a social commentary on the town’s industrial roots: On one side, a child appears to be playing in the falling snow, sticking his tongue out for snowflakes. The other side reveals the “snow” is actually falling ash and smoke from dumpster fire.
Neath Port Talbot Council has offered to fully fund the removal and relocation of the artwork, in line with a public consultation process – an offer Mr Lewis has declined.
The council extended to Mr Lewis the opportunity to loan the artwork to “the people of Neath Port Talbot on a permanent basis”.
Mr Lewis said he has been overwhelmed by the pressure to upkeep the graffiti, leading him to invest in 24-hour security to protect it from vandalism after admitting to losing sleep over the responsibility. But he maintains he is grateful for the piece.
However, he said, he was refusing the help of the council, and instead has organised meetings with various organisations and politicians, in order to pick the right option when it came to selling and relocating the Banksy work.
Banksy’s latest work is believed to comment on the pollution-heavy status of its home town. Photo: Getty
The artwork is currently guarded by a protective screen and fence.
Earlier, Mr Lewis told the BBC that the artwork was attracting thousands of visitors to his property per day, leaving him in charge of controlling the mass crowds.
“It’s just all been so much for me. I’m actually managing an arts attraction by myself.”
Welsh actor Michael Sheen has contributed towards the cost of protecting the graffiti from vandalism, traffic congestion and pollution but said more was needed to be done to secure the future of the artwork.