Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Expensive repair for Banksy mural

Recovering a Banksy mural accidentally painted over by a community worker could cost thousands of pounds

The recovery of a Banksy mural accidentally painted over by a community worker could cost thousands of pounds, an expert has warned.

Gorilla In A Pink Mask is one of the graffiti artist's early pieces, drawn on the side of a former social club in Eastville, Bristol - Banksy's home city.

The ape was a familiar sight for more than 10 years, but the man responsible for the whitewash said he had never even heard of the renowned artist.

Now Richard Pelter, the director and head conservator of the International Fine Art Conservation Studios, has said the mural could be recovered but it would be painstaking work and cost thousands of pounds.

"I went along to carry out some tests. I was asked to go and comment on the work," Mr Pelter said on Friday.

"As far as I know the place was being decorated, and kitted out ready for occupation and they painted over graffiti. Somebody may have realised it was a Banksy, somebody else didn't, it was that sort of situation, but it's quite a notable piece and something can be done I imagine but it would take quite a long time to get it sorted out properly.

"Given the right sort of conditions, I think you would probably be able to establish something. What I found was that the paint there was quite soluble underneath, but no-one could actually tell me where it was on the wall.

"What I was doing was seeing if the upper layers of paint can be removed which they can, very carefully, and it would take quite a long time and cost quite a bit of money to do it, probably hundreds going into the thousands, because of the complexity of it."

Over recent years Banksy has become a household name with his works fetching hundreds of thousands of pounds. He was also nominated for an Oscar following his film Exit Through The Gift Shop. The building in Fishponds Road has recently been turned into a Muslim Cultural Centre and is being renovated.

Saeed Ahmed, the owner of the centre, said: "I thought it was worthless. I didn't know it was valuable. That's why I painted over it."

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