Banksy’s Spy Booth mural before being defaced
In a race against time an effort is underway by conservators to save Banksy’s Spy Booth mural from permanent damage. The mural appeared on the wall of a house in Cheltenham (south-west England) in April this year and shows three 1950s-style agents ‘snooping’ on either side of a (real) public telephone box. The mural is only three miles from Britain’s GCHQ’s ‘listening post’ which, in GCHQ’s own words, “…is an intelligence and security organisation, working to keep Britain safe and secure in the challenging environment of modern communications.” At the beginning of August, however, residents noticed that the mural had been defaced with red and silver spray paint. Fortunately, a transparent, anti-graffiti film, had already been applied to the mural to protect it from such vandalism. Unless remedial work is undertaken without delay, however, the spray paint is likely to seep through to the original and cause it permanent damage.
Banksy’s Spy Booth mural after being defaced
Campaigners have been trying to keep the artwork in situ after the owners of the house claimed it had been sold to an American buyer and workmen had arrived to remove it. Last month Cheltenham Borough Council issued a temporary stop notice preventing further removal work from taking place on the Grade II listed building. Meanwhile, a local businessman has generously agreed to pay ‘whatever it takes’ to keep the artwork in place.
It’s difficult to know what can be done to protect similar works of art from such vandalism – though it’s good to know that there’s such civic pride towards protecting Banksy’ works of art, and others like them. One thing’s for sure though, GCHQ seems to have been lacking in its objective of ‘working to keep Britain safe and secure in the challenging environment of modern communications’ in this instance!
See our earlier features about Banksy here.