Banksy’s season’s greetings moved from Port Talbot

Banksy’s renowned street art ‘Season’s Greetings’ has been removed from its temporary home in Port Talbot town centre, bringing a sad end to its short and controversial stay in Wales

A large barrier was erected around Ty’r Orsaf at Station Road on Tuesday, February 8, so that construction workers could safely wrap the room in protective material and remove glass from the building’s windows – before to winch it and use a crane to put it on a truck for transport.

Some neighbors watched the scene from their windows or from gaps in the fence around the building, while the artwork’s owner, John Brandler, of Essex-based Brandler Galleries, spoke to the press.

Read more: It’s so sad’: Port Talbot owner Banksy says he won’t be returning to Wales after move to England

Mr Brandler said he was saddened to be asked to remove the artwork from his home in Port Talbot and claimed his plans to build a ‘world-class street art museum’ in Port Talbot had been rejected by Neath Port Talbot Council.

Neath Port Talbot Council Leader Coucillor Ted Latham said keeping the artwork in the town would have cost £100,000 a year just to loan the piece out – and more money to pay for a new home, moving and insurance costs.

Banksy’s artwork depicts a child dressed for winter, arms outstretched and tongue sticking out, appearing to catch snowflakes on a wall – but on the other side of the wall it is clear that the snowflakes appear are actually flakes of ash and smoke from a fire in a dumpster.

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It first appeared on the garage wall of Port Talbot steelworker Ian Lewis on a cold, frosty morning a few days before Christmas 2018, and quickly became a tourist hotspot, drawing crowds from all over Port Talbot, from the wider South Wales region, and from across the UK, all eager to see Banksy’s latest street art.

The iconic piece was later moved to the window of an empty shop unit in downtown Port Talbot, Ty’r Orsaf at Station Road, where some locals claimed it was ‘trapped’ and hard to see .

Nevertheless, thousands of people have visited the Ty’r Orsaf mural – but will no longer be able to do so.

After four years in Port Talbot, the modern masterpiece is now making its way to ‘a highly secure, undisclosed temporary storage unit’. It is not yet clear what will be its fate after this, although the Banksy Preservation Society is considering raising funds to put it on permanent display.

Mr Brandler said: “We are taking the Banksy Season’s Greetings painting which was painted in Port Talbot three years ago and removing it and storing it.

“The board [Neath Port Talbot Council] sent me a letter last year saying ‘take it away’ and so that’s what we’re doing, we’re following council instructions.

“The original intention was to create a world-class street art museum here in Port Talbot. There are five in the world and I wanted to create the sixth. And we were going to use Banksy, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Cors, My Dog Sighs, Pure Evil, all that stuff – great international artists.

“And it wasn’t wanted, because they’re not Welsh. So we left it here, the owners of the building were amazing, they gave the building to the council for £1 a year, to create a street art museum, bringing about 150,000 to 200,000 people a year to the city to view the artwork.

“We took the closest example that gets 550,000 visitors a year, so I thought 150,000 was a safe number to use.”

Robert Green, 37, whose apartment neighbours, the Banksy, said: ‘It was the only thing that made Port Talbot, who made a statement about Port Talbot and now they are taking it away. I looked in and everything. It’s sad.”

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