In the town of Lowestoft, Suffolk, not much goes on, it is usually a quaint and quiet area in East Anglia, but that all changed over this weekend as the town was visited by mysterious spray paint artist Banksy. When the ten pieces were discovered, locals instantly wondered who may have been responsible for them. This was then swiftly confirmed by the infamous artist himself, who named the series A Great British Spraycation. He also posted a video to Instagram showing behind-the-scenes details of their creation.
Many view Banksy in a positive light, embrace his nihilistic and thought provoking imagery, and visit the pieces in person or attend his exhibitions such as Dismaland back in 2015. However, great notoriety comes with its caveats, like those who wish to deface the work as soon as they can. In this case, one such culprit succeeded – to the dismay of the townspeople and the council alike.
It only took one night after Banksy’s initial confirmation for a vandal to paint over a piece depicting one of Banksy’s iconic spray-paint creatures, a rat sitting on a deck chair, found at the seafront.
East Suffolk Council issued a statement regarding the defacement: “We are naturally appalled that someone has chosen to behave in such a selfish and mindless way given how excited we all are by the appearance of these works here on the east coast,” they stated. “We are, however, hopeful that this particular work can be restored, and are engaging with specialists.”
Apparently, upon hearing of Banksy’s involvement, the council implemented protective measures to prevent an issue like this happening and even caught the ‘vandal’ before they could finish.
It seems ironic that the nation gives so much protection to the work of artists like Banksy, whose medium isn’t meant to be forever; especially after vilification of graffiti artists around the UK and indeed the world.
Why is it that a Banksy piece can mean so much more to a town or city than the work of a youth that idolises him? These areas want to profit from whatever tourism the news of his art causes, understandably; it just feels hypocritical when disregarding and painting over the work of lesser known local artists on an everyday basis is so common.
Granted, Banksy pieces do look more ‘professional’, but didn’t he also start somewhere? When you have people breaking off bits of wall to sell at auction it kind of defies the point and essence of the art, the same can be said for exhibiting the work for tourism purposes. Graffiti is meant to be painted over and is never finite, Banksy knows that, and the vandal does too. The uproar over this piece is probably exactly what Banksy had envisioned, and could demonstrate more than the art did itself.