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Rievaulx Abbey by William Westall (1781-1850)
The Trustees of the British Museum
Since relocating from the south to the north of England, exactly one year ago today, The Heritage Trust has been busy exploring this part of the country (North Yorkshire) and is pleased to announce that its Outreach Event this year will focus on the medieval Christian Heritage of the area. The Heritage Trust’s 2016 Outreach Event will take place over two days beginning Saturday, 13 August and ending Sunday, 14 August. Our itinerary includes a visit to the spectacular ruins of Rievaulx Abbey, and its new museum, followed by lunch at a nearby 15th century pub. We will then travel on to the charming market town of Pickering and visit the church of St Peter and St Paul there to view its world-famous medieval murals. In past Outreach Events The Heritage Trust has tried to combine culinary delights with the heritage issues we are concerned with. The first day of the Event will therefore conclude with an evening meal in one of North Yorkshire’s finest Chinese restaurants – The Queens Head at Amotherby.
On day two of the Event we plan to meet at 9am in the new Costa Coffee shop in Pickering. From there we’ll take a quiet back road over the stunning North York Moors to Whitby. The route will travel through part of  the North York National Park and will take us past a section of the Wheeldale Roman Road, the Three Howes Bronze Age barrows on Murk Mire Moor and several of the enigmatic Wheeldale standing stones.
Section of the Wheeldale Roman Road in the 1960s
The Three Howes Bronze Age barrows on Murk Mire Moor
The Heritage Trust
One of the Wheeldale Stones that stand along the Roman Road between Egton Bridge and the ford at Wheeldale Gill
On arrival in Whitby we will make our way up the 199 Steps, made famous by Bram Stoker in his Gothic horror novel Dracula, to St Mary’s Church and the stunning remains of its nearby 16th century Benedictine abbey. Here the Event will end, although participants might want explore the rest of Whitby as they wish. There is much to see in Whitby, including the Captain Cook Museum, the Whitby Museum in Pannett Park and the town’s many unique and charming little ‘yards’. There is no charge for participating in the Event, although those who do will need to provide their own transport to and from sites and pay for their own meals, admission to sites etc. Please email us if you are interested in participating, or click on the Forthcoming Events link above for updates. Otherwise just meet us outside the English Heritage gift shop at Rievaulx Abbey on Saturday, 13 August at 10am (look out for people wearing The Heritage Trust badges).
The 199 Steps leading to St Mary’s Church and Whitby Abbey
The Heritage Trust
The Star Chart on the ceiling of the Takamatsuzuka burial mound in western Japan
Image credit Yuta Takahashi for the The Asahi Shimbun
The famous Takamatsuzuka Kofun (高松塚古墳) burial mound exhibition closes today (8 November 2015) in Asuka village, Japan. Built during the Asuka Period, between the end of the 7th century and the beginning of the 8th century, it lay unopened until 1972. Excavations of the mound then revealed an interior on whose walls stunning murals of Asuka Period ladies, astrological representations and a golden star chart were found. The gold disks, making up the chart, measure some 0.8 centimetres in diameter and are connected by red lines
Designated as a National Treasure this was the first time the general public were able to view the chart.
More here.

Keep off our Worms by Banksy

A mural by street artist Banksy, possibly worth tens of thousand of pounds, has been scrubbed from a wall in Clacton-on-Sea (south-east England) by the local council. BBC News Essex reports that the mural, “…showing a group of pigeons holding anti-immigration banners has been destroyed following a complaint that the work was “racist”.”

The mural appeared this week in Clacton-on-Sea where a by-election is due to take place following the local Conservative MP’s defection to the United Kingdom Independence Party. “It showed four pigeons holding signs including “Go Back to Africa”, while a more exotic-looking bird looked on. The local council, which removed it, said it did not know it was by Banksy. Tendring District Council said it received a complaint that the mural was “offensive” and “racist”.”

It would appear that both Tendring District Council and the complainant might benefit from a crash course in the ‘art of irony’.

More here and here. See also our other features on Banksy via the search box above.


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.
The tomb of a priest discovered just 1,000 feet (300 meters) from the Great Pyramid at Giza
From Photo by Photo courtesy of Maksim Lebedev
Yahoo News reports –
A wall painting, dating back over 4,300 years, has been discovered in a tomb located just east of the Great Pyramid of Giza. The painting shows vivid scenes of life, including boats sailing south on the Nile River, a bird hunting trip in a marsh and a man named Perseneb who’s shown with his wife and dog. While Giza is famous for its pyramids, the site also contains fields of tombs that sprawl to the east and west of the Great Pyramid. These tombs were created for private individuals who held varying degrees of rank and power during the Old Kingdom (2649-2150 B.C.), the age when the Giza pyramids were built. The new painting was discovered in 2012 by a team from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which has been excavating these tombs since 1996.
Full article here.
Roundel from the replica Barbury Castle Roundhouse
The Heritage Trust
This lovely little roundel, showing a white horse, beehive and honeybee, was one of several that adorned the interior of the replica Iron Age roundhouse that was designed and built by Chris Park of Acorn Education in 2006. The replica was sited close to the Iron Age Barbury Castle hill fort in Wiltshire, England. Sadly the roundhouse was deliberately set on fire in October 2008 and nothing now remains of it.
Replica Iron Age roundhouse that once stood close to Barbury Castle in Wiltshire, England
The Heritage Trust
Swindon Advertiser report of the incident here.
Mural of the Asuka Beauties painted on the west wall of the stone chamber in the Takamatsuzuka Burial Mound (kofun) in Asuka, Nara Prefecture, Japan
Photo taken in August 2013 after the mural had been cleaned
Image credit the Japan Agency for Cultural Affairs
Kazuto Tsukamoto, Staff Writer for The Asahi Shimbun, reports that –
Stunning murals painted 1,300 years ago in the stone chamber of the Takamatsuzuka burial mound, currently under repair, will continue to be preserved in an outside facility. The government panel that made the decision March 27 said the colorful wall paintings can stay “for the time being” outside the stone chamber even after the decade-long repair process winds up. A key reason for this is the lack of established technology to prevent mold from re-emerging and destroying what is left of the paintings.
The murals created a huge buzz when they were discovered in 1972 at the burial mound in Asuka, Nara Prefecture. “Given existing technologies, it would be difficult to return the mural paintings to the burial mound, although we will continue our research for doing so,” said Yorikuni Nagai, an adjunct professor of education policy with the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, who chairs the 17-member panel, which reports to the Agency for Cultural Affairs. “We will have to build a solid preservation facility if the process is going to take 20 to 30 years to complete.”
The Agency for Cultural Affairs initially envisaged returning the mural paintings to the Takamatsuzuka burial mound once the repair work was finished. The panel’s decision represents a departure from established policy, which is based on the notion that archaeological finds should in principle be conserved on site. “It would be appropriate to preserve, maintain and display the mural paintings at an appropriate location outside the burial mound for the time being,” said part of a draft plan the agency presented to the panel, which subsequently approved it.
The Takamatsuzuka paintings, designated a national treasure, include the famous “Asuka beauties,” or a group of female figures originally found on the west wall of the stone chamber. The entire stone chamber was removed in 2007 from the tumulus, which dates from the late seventh or the early eighth century and is designated a special historic site by the government. A similar decision had earlier been reached on colorful mural paintings from the Kitora burial mound,  another government-designated special historic site in Asuka. They are being preserved outside the tumulus, which also dates from the late seventh or the early eighth century.
While preferable to preserve artefacts, works of art etc in their original context it’s surely impossible (and probably undesirable) in this case. Since their discovery forty years ago the Takamatsuzuka murals now show signs of degradation and, given their delicate nature, perhaps should have been moved to a controlled environment from the beginning. Even the poor quality press cutting below shows loss of facial (and other detail/degradation) in the paintings since the 1970s.
Press cutting from the 17 March 1972. Compare with the more recent Agency for Cultural Affairs photograph above (top)
Original article here. See also our feature on Asuka here.
We seem to have missed this (though given the date when the article first appeared it’s not that surprising) so thought it might be worth a mention again here. Frequent visitors to the Avebury World Heritage Site will know of the Barge Inn at Honey Street, what they might not know, and according to the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald, is that the Barge –
…is banking on a huge cash windfall after a Banksy mural mysteriously appeared overnight on the Sarsen stone in the pub’s beer garden. The mural depicts a dog peeing against the stone and is thought to be in protest at the pub’s proposed banning of dogs from the canalside garden.
Now Honeystreet Ales, the pubs owners, are planning to cash in by uprooting the stone and selling it at auction. Simon Pye, a spokesman for the company, said: “We feel privileged that Banksy has chosen the Barge for his artwork. Some customers might view it as graffiti, but I’m sure it would help trade. Unfortunately, our insurers have insisted it’s removed as it’s too valuable to leave outside”.
Full article here.  On a serious note, it appears that Banksy’s Kissing Coppers, taken from a pub wall in Brighton, England, has sold for $575,000 in the US. Details here. Another case for repatriation we wonder… what do you think George?
Detail of the 15th century St George and the Dragon tableaux in St Cadoc’s Church, Llancarfan, Wales
St Cadoc’s in Llancarfan, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales appears to be just another little village church. Established on the site of a much earlier 7th century monastery, and founded around 1,200ce, the church is now causing something of a sensation after the discovery in 2007 of a thin line of red paint on one of the interior walls. A team of experts were subsequently called in to investigate and to see what else might be hidden behind the twenty layers of limewash that had accumulated on the walls over the centuries.
After five years of painstaking work, and sometimes exposing little more than one square inch of painting an hour, conservators working on the walls have revealed an astonishing array of 15th century murals; among them St George and the Dragon, the Seven Deadly Sins, portraits and an extraordinary painting of a corpse with worms and toads crawling out of its body as it leads a young man into the graveyard via a window. What is unusual about this painting is that the young man is painted on one wall and the corpse on another wall at a different angle – a clever use of three dimensional illusion.
Watch the BBC News Magazine video  of the paintings here. See also our features on the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Pickering, North Yorkshire and St Mary’s Church, Bartlow, Cambridgeshire.

No Ball Games by Banksy. Photo credit ROMANY WG

Peter Walker, writing in The Guardian yesterday (Friday, 26 July 2013) reports that –

Not so long ago the appearance of a work by the superstar graffiti artist Bansky was a source of curiosity and local pride. Now it seems it mainly spells a commercial opportunity. For the second time this year a Banksy work sprayed on a shop wall in north London has disappeared, most likely to be sold at auction, to the consternation of residents and the local council.

A month after Slave Labour – a jubilee-themed mural depicting a child making union flag bunting – sold for more than £750,000 after being removed from the side of a Poundland in Wood Green, an even better-known work has gone from nearby Tottenham. No Ball Games, which appeared on a convenience store in September 2009, is one of the secretive Bristol-born artist’s most celebrated recent images. Typical of Banksy’s blunt polemic style, it shows a pair of stencilled children with their hands raised towards a floating piece of paper bearing the title’s words. Locals became concerned when the side of the building was covered in scaffolding and wooden hoardings this week. The graffiti has now gone, having been split into three pieces for removal.

As with Slave Labour, it has emerged that the people behind this process is Sincura Group, an upmarket concierge service that describes itself on its website as “acquiring access to the inaccessible”.

Both the No Ball Games and the Slave Labour murals are now certainly inaccessible to the general public who, no doubt, Banksy originally intended them for! Is it not time to ‘List’ outstanding works of graffiti, by artist such as Banksy, so that their ‘removal’ cannot be allowed without due process?

Full Guardian article here. See also our previous features on Banksy here and here.


One of three, 15th century wall paintings visible in St Mary’s Church, Bartlow, Cambridgeshire. The painting depicts St Christopher with the Christ Child on his left shoulder
The Heritage Trust

Describing St Mary’s Curch the Bedforshire Parishes website states that –

Lysons, in his Magna Britannia, states that Bartlow is the Church built by King Canute in 1020 AD in reparation for the blood spilled in the battle of Assandune (Ashdon) between the Saxons and the Danes. This is disputed by later authorities, and Ashingdon in S Essex is the most likely site of the battle.
St Mary’s Church, Bartlow, Cambridgeshire
Image credit Moss
The Bartlow Burial Mounds are reached by following the left-hand path from the front of the church. See our earlier features on the Bartlow Burial Mounds here and here.
The Huffington Post reports this afternoon that Banksy’s ‘Slave Labour’ mural sold at a private London auction last night for £750,000 (see our feature below).
The auctioneers had received three bids of more than £750,000, the London-based dealer Robin Barton, who was representing the restored mural’s owners, said in an email to Bloomberg.
The 2012 work ‘Slave Labour, depicting a child in a sweatshop sewing Union Jack bunting, was hacked off the wall of the Poundland, and appeared at Fine Art Auctions in Miami, to [a] wave of protests from Haringey Council, Lynne Featherstone MP and thousands on social media.
The freeholder of the building where the piece was painted is Wood Green Investments, a property firm owned by Essex-based businessmen Robert Davies, 60, and Leslie Gilbert, 49. Speaking to The Sunday Times, the pair refused to confirm or deny whether they were involved in removing the work or even whether they owned the building. “We’re businessmen, so our primary concern is making money, and I can’t see the benefit for us of setting the record straight about this at the moment,” said Gilbert.
Turner Prize winning artist Grayson Perry said the work had been “destroyed” when it was removed from the wall of the Poundland. Speaking at an event to celebrate 100 years of conservation at Historic Royal Palaces, Perry said: “The most interesting thing about it for me was that Banksy said the minute they dug it off the wall it wasn’t a Banksy any more.”
Full article here.
‘Slave Labour’ by Banksy
Back in February we reported on Banksy’s ‘Slave Labour’ mural for the hammer (again) in which this iconic piece by street artist Banksy was surreptitiously removed from the wall of a Poundland store in Whymark Avenue, Wood Green, North London in May of last year and was then due to be auctioned by Frederic Thut’s auction house in Miami, USA. Under pressure, Frederic Thut withdrew the item from auction but it has now found its way back to London (after being ‘restored’) not to its original location in Wood Green but to the upmarket Flower Cellars venue in Covent Garden.
According to The Sincura Group, who are hosting the Banksy at The Flower Cellars event today, Sunday, 2 June from 6pm –
The collection has been loving [sic] put together with some of the world’s leading private collectors and many of these pieces have never been seen before in public. It is your chance to view, and even purchase, some of the most important artwork in the modern era including the infamous Slave Labour piece.
We welcome our members [general membership costs £95 per month] to join VIP guests from 6pm with complimentary champagne from sponsors Tattinger and canapés created by LMG under the guidance of ex-head chef of celebrity restaurant Zuma.
The Sincura Group’s About us page states that, “The Sincura Group started as a secret organisation open buildings and acquiring access through our unique networks.” We’re not entirely sure what ‘a secret organisation open buildings and acquiring access through our unique networks’ implies but among Sincura Group’s clients is the investment banking giant Nomura, two of whose top executives resigned in an insider trading scandal last year.
The Sincura Group can be contacted by emailing or by telephoning 44 (0) 844 854 9220.
Pond in a Garden
Wall painting, dating from 1,400bce, from the Tomb of Nebamun, Luxor Egypt
Source Wikimedia Commons
Heritage Daily reports that –
A bright blue pigment used 5,000 years ago is giving modern scientists clues toward the development of new nanomaterials with potential uses in state-of-the-art medical imaging devices, remote controls for televisions, security inks and other technology. That’s the conclusion of an article on the pigment, Egyptian blue, in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Tina T. Salguero and colleagues point out that Egyptian blue, regarded as humanity’s first artificial pigment, was used in paintings on tombs, statues and other objects throughout the ancient Mediterranean world. Remnants have been found, for instance, on the statue of the messenger goddess Iris on the Parthenon and in the famous Pond in a Garden fresco in the tomb of Egyptian “scribe and counter of grain” Nebamun in Thebes.
Full article here.
‘Slave Labour’ by Banksy
Banksy’s ‘Slave Labour’ mural is scheduled to go under the hammer today at Frederic Thut’s auction house in Miami, USA. The sale description reads MODERN, CONTEMPORARY AND STREET ART: Asian, Latin American, American, European Artists, including Street Art, and the mural is expected to achieve a figure in the region of £450,000 ($700,000). The work, thought to be a commentary on the use of sweat-shop labour, first appeared on the wall of a Poundland store in Whymark Avenue, Wood Green, North London in May of last year but then ‘disappeared’ earlier this month. Poundland say they are investigating the disappearance of the mural and maintain they were not responsible for its removal.
Frederic Thut claims that the mural was not stolen but ‘legitimately removed’ by the owners of the wall; he has accused local people of assuming moral ownership of something that is not theirs. Councillor Alan Strickland however says that locals see it as an act of theft: “The feeling in the community here, very strongly, is that this is a piece of art given freely by Banksy to our community. It belongs to our community, and we’ve really enjoyed having it here. It seems quite wrong to take that out secretively and sell it at auction in Miami for half a million dollars. That seems completely counter to the spirit with which Banksy gave it to us.”
We have seen this sort of ‘removal’ of art from countless sites across the globe – perhaps the removal of Buddhist murals, manuscripts and artefacts from Dunhuang in Western China is the closest parallel to the Banksy mural where a similar ‘legitimate’ argument was used. The principal however is not whether it is legitimate to remove art from its original context but whether it is morally right to do so. Patently, it was not morally right to remove the Banksy Slave Labour mural from its North London context and we unreservedly support those campaigning to have it returned to its place of origin. Banksy’s position is that if you take his work out of its context it is no longer his work, it is not a Banksy. Purchasers of the work (if it is purchased) should take heed of that. Meanwhile, perhaps Banksy has had the last word as an appropriate ‘rat’ stencil has appeared next to the missing mural with the one word caption – Why?
The Rat stencil, possibly by Banksy, has now appeared next to the removed mural in Wood Green, London
Photo credit Antonia Kanczula
The sale at Frederic Thut’s will begin from 3pm today (local time) and will be held at –
346 NW 29th street
Miami, Florida 33127
Contact –
Tel: +1 305 573 4228
Fax: +1 305 573 4245
Update: The item has now been withdrawn from auction. Details here.


June 2022
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