Someone Vandalized Banksy’s New Mural in London. Now, It’s Been Covered Up

The coverings were added to protect the art, but critics worry they detract from the artist’s intentions

Banksy mural covered in boards
Wooden boards and plastic screens surround Banksy's latest confirmed artwork in London. Leon Neal / Getty Images

Soon after a Banksy mural appeared in London’s Finsbury Park neighborhood earlier this month, someone splattered it with white paint. Now, the work has been covered with plastic and wooden boards.

The piece, painted on the side of a residential building, depicts a person with a pressure washer standing under streaks of green. From the right angle, the green paint makes a bare tree in the building’s courtyard look like it’s covered with foliage. The artwork popped up overnight on St. Patrick’s Day, and the enigmatic street artist later confirmed the work was his on social media.

The new mural was met with great excitement, and large crowds gathered to see the latest addition to the neighborhood. A few days later, however, someone vandalized it, throwing streaks of white paint onto the side of the Finsbury Park building.

Banksy Mural without fencing
An image of the mural before the fencing, wooden boards and plastic coverings were added Stringer / Anadolu via Getty Images

To help protect the work, the local Islington Council put up metal fencing to keep people at a distance from the building and set up a rotation of officials responsible for regularly checking in on the scene, as the Guardian’s Jamie Grierson reports.

Later, wooden barriers and protective plastic appeared, obstructing the view. According to the council, these measures were added by the building’s owner.

“When it first went up, it was nice,” Mary Dickenson, who lives near the mural, tells BBC News’ Jess Warren and Anna O’Neill. “Someone did try to destroy it, and they’ve blocked everything off now, so you can’t really see anything.”

Güley Polat, who lives in Germany, came to London to see the piece. “It seems like we are in prison,” she tells the broadcaster. “I think Banksy doesn’t want to have his street art in a prison.”

At the same time, council officials worry that the mural’s presence will disrupt the lives of the building’s residents.

“The Banksy artwork has attracted huge crowds, and there is a need to protect the art and local residents from the impact of visitor numbers,” says a council spokesperson, per the Guardian.

Banksy plastic coverings
The building's owner added plastic coverings to prevent further damage after someone threw white paint on the Banksy piece. Leon Neal / Getty Images

What those protections should look like is a matter of debate. Some locals argue that certain precautionary measures detract from the meaning of the piece.

“It’s got an environmental message, and the plastic is the complete opposite,” local artist Daniel Lloyd-Morgan tells the Evening Standard’s Ella Nunn. “It’s the opposite of the message Banksy was trying to [convey]. It’s just worse every layer they put on.”

Soon, the council plans to install a new protective barrier, which will feature plastic panels to “allow clear views.”

“We’ve had a lot of concerns from our residents about disruption from the [number] of visitors to the artwork, which is right outside their homes,” says a council spokesperson, per BBC News. “We will monitor and review arrangements at the site, and will continue to explore future solutions with the building owner so people can enjoy the artwork.”

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