| 9.9°C Belfast

Row reignites between council and arts dealer over Port Talbot Banksy

Season’s Greetings has been removed from the South Wales town and transported to England.

Close

John Brandler, the owner of Season’s Greetings by street artist Banksy, observes the artworks removal from a retail unit in Port Talbot (PA)

John Brandler, the owner of Season’s Greetings by street artist Banksy, observes the artworks removal from a retail unit in Port Talbot (PA)

John Brandler, the owner of Season’s Greetings by street artist Banksy, observes the artworks removal from a retail unit in Port Talbot (PA)

A row between an art dealer and a local council over a mural painted by the artist Banksy in South Wales has reignited.

Season’s Greetings, which depicts a message about the impact of pollution on communities, appeared on the outside of a steelworker’s private garage in Taibach, Port Talbot, on December 19 2018.

Art dealer John Brandler then bought the artwork from garage owner Ian Lewis for an undisclosed six-figure sum, agreeing to keep it in the country.

It was then put on display in an empty shop unit in Ty’r Orsaf, where it remained for the past four years. The Banksy artwork has now been removed and is due to be transported to England.

There has been criticism of the decision to move the artwork, with many seeing it as a “missed opportunity” for the town.

However, the artwork’s owner, John Brandler, has said the controversial move is down to Neath Port Talbot Council who he claims sent him a letter last year asking him to “take it away”.

The local authority said it had been in discussions about keeping the piece in the town but Mr Brandler had demanded a yearly six-figure sum for the loan of the mural.

Close

Workers use a crane to lift a crate containing Season’s Greetings by street artist Banksy as it leaves a retail unit at Ty’r Orsaf, Port Talbot, to move to a temporary storage unit (Ben Birchall/PA)

Workers use a crane to lift a crate containing Season’s Greetings by street artist Banksy as it leaves a retail unit at Ty’r Orsaf, Port Talbot, to move to a temporary storage unit (Ben Birchall/PA)

PA

Workers use a crane to lift a crate containing Season’s Greetings by street artist Banksy as it leaves a retail unit at Ty’r Orsaf, Port Talbot, to move to a temporary storage unit (Ben Birchall/PA)

A council spokesperson said: “The council was informed it would have to meet the costs of its removal and installation into a new venue, to continue to cover the insurance and to pay a fee in the region of £100,000 per year for the loan of the work.”

The cost of relocation of the artwork was estimated to cost around £50,000, the council said.

“The future of the artwork is now in the hands of its owner, Mr Brandler,” it added.

Mr Brandler has claimed that “fanatics” and “vandals” have tried to destroy the piece and that moving it out of Wales would ensure it would be preserved for future generations.

But the owner of Brandler Galleries in Brentwood, Essex, said his original intention was to set up a street art museum in the town, exhibiting Banksy works and the works of other famous artists and draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to the area.

Talking to PA news agency, Mr Brandler said: “I wanted it to stay in the town, and when I bought it that was one of the conditions of me buying it. I wasn’t the biggest offer the owner had but I came up with the idea of lending it to the town and I said it should stay here for at least three years.

“And then at the end of last year, I got a letter from the council saying ‘right, your three years are up now take it away’. I was quite happy to leave it here.

“What a missed opportunity for the town, 150,000 people coming here need tea, coffee, beers, sandwiches, everything.

“Everyone I spoke to in the town wanted it to happen, shop keepers, taxi drivers, but the authorities didn’t want it to happen.”

Mr Brandler, a collector of Banksy art work since 2003 who owns four of Banksy’s wall art pieces to date, has been open about his fraught relationship with the artist but said he is the “essence of street art”.

Asked what Banksy would think of his artwork being moved from the town, Mr Brandler said: “I think he would be ambivalent about what’s going on today, because he knows I’m trying to preserve it and he knows I want it to be seen by a wider audience.”

The mock Christmas scene, created using stencils and spray paint, includes a dumpster fire next to a child with a sledge who is trying to catch falling snow on their tongue.

Close

Banksy’s Season’s Greetings appeared on the outside of a steelworker’s private garage in Taibach, Port Talbot on December 19 2018 (Ben Birchall/PA)

Banksy’s Season’s Greetings appeared on the outside of a steelworker’s private garage in Taibach, Port Talbot on December 19 2018 (Ben Birchall/PA)

PA

Banksy’s Season’s Greetings appeared on the outside of a steelworker’s private garage in Taibach, Port Talbot on December 19 2018 (Ben Birchall/PA)

The snow in the mural is black dust, a by-product of steel production, from the town’s steelworks. This fell heavily in the summer of 2018.

Local artist ‘K’, who publishes work under the name Scruffy Trainers, said the work had been a symbol of “hope” for the town and that its removal had “raised emotions”.

She said: “This type of thing doesn’t happen very often in Port Talbot so it’s pretty sad to see it go. I think it gave people hope. So I think, naturally, its going has raised emotions.

“It’s the only Banksy in Wales, but I think it’ll come back. And I think it will travel and tour the country, and take the story of Port Talbot with it, and I think that is a positive.”

The Banksy Preservation Society now aims to raise enough funds through selling exclusive Banksy Non-fungible token (NFT) Art drops to buy Season’s Greetings from Mr Brandler in order to ensure it will be on display to the public.

If the scheme is successful, those who buy the NFTs will be able to have a say over where the original is exhibited.

Lucy Cowley, from the organisation, said: “The reason the society was founded was to being Banksy work from a private collection back into the public.

“Those who purchase an NFTs will get membership to the society which will allow them a vote as to where it goes.

“And, who knows? If the public voted that they wanted it back in Wales, it would come back to Wales.”

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required


Top Videos



Privacy