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Town protects Banksy’s latest street art mural with a plastic sheet

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A new Banksy mural appeared in south Wales. Now, the town is moving to protect it.
A new Banksy mural appeared in south Wales. Now, the town is moving to protect it.

Image: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

File this one under deeply ironic — yet sadly necessary.

On Wednesday, the elusive street artist Banksy claimed responsibility on Instagram for a new mural that appeared on the wall of a garage in the south Wales town of Port Talbot. 

Then, days after the work appeared, the town erected a transparent plastic sheet wall to protect the latest work from the artist who made a name for himself by vandalizing public property. 

The irony is difficult to ignore, but the town’s actions are wholly understandable. 

The new mural, titled “Seasons Greetings,” depicts a child apparently catching falling snow on his tongue. But when you turn the corner of the garage, it’s clear that the “snow” is actually ash emitting from a dumpster fire. Cheery!

Banksy may have gotten his start as a vandalizing graffiti artist, but his standing as one of the best known and most sought after artists in the world at least somewhat undermines the rebellion of the act. According to the BBC, a man in Port Talbot actually asked Banksy to paint a mural there — and the artist stunningly obliged.

So the fact that the town now has what’s clearly a valuable new piece of art on one of its previously nondescript walls is cause for a plastic sheet, at the very least. Aside from the value of the thing, the town told the BBC that it wants to make sure its residents can enjoy the art for years to come.

“This art is for Port Talbot, Neath and surrounding areas,” a post on the Neath Port Talbot Life Facebook page reads. “We do not want it wrecked.”

Originally, a metal fence surrounding the art shielded it. But the town upped the protection and security on Saturday. The actor Michael Sheen, who grew up in the surrounding areas, helped pay for the new wall.

That protection did not come a moment too soon. On Sunday, the BBC reported that someone had tried to vandalize and rip down the protection of the work. 

The owner of the Facebook page says the town fears that “some idiot who wants to make a name for themselves” may target the work He attributed the actions to “Some drunk halfwit.” A security guard apprehended the attacker, and no damage was done to the mural.

The same cannot be said for other public Banksy works around the world. Vandals have defaced works in New York, and an anti-graffiti crew accidentally painted over a Banksy in Melbourne. Banksy himself secretly built a shredder into a painting sold at auction at Sotheby’s — and shredded half of the work after it had been sold for $1.4 million.

Naturally, experts think the stunt increases the work’s value.

Would the “drunk halfwit” have attacked the mural had the town not erected the protection? Who can say? Perhaps it was the plastic wall, not the artwork, that so offended him.

Given Banksy’s stature and the public’s track record of public defacement, protecting this freely given and miraculous art gift makes total sense, even if it is a bit sadly ironic. 

Then again, maybe the hooligan’s attempt to pull down the plastic is a stunt Banksy would have been proud of.

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