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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 January 2019

Wall to wall protection: new Banksy mural put under 24-hour guard 

'Season's Greetings' appeared on a garage wall in the Welsh town of Port Talbot, attracting more than 2,000 visitors

People gather around fences that have been erected to protect the latest artwork by the artist Banksy. Getty Images
People gather around fences that have been erected to protect the latest artwork by the artist Banksy. Getty Images

A new mural by the anonymous street artist Banksy has been under 24-hour guard since it appeared last week on a garage wall in the Welsh town of Port Talbot.

Volunteers erected steel fences around the artwork to prevent it being damaged by vandals, and a permanent protective plastic screen has now been fitted.

A protective plastic screen has been installed in front of Banksy's latest artwork, 'Season's Greetings'. 
A protective plastic screen has been installed in front of Banksy's latest artwork, 'Season's Greetings'

Environmentally motivated, Season’s Greetings, which has been painted on two sides of a corner wall, appears to depict a young boy catching snowflakes on his tongue. But the snowflakes turn out to be flecks of ash thrown out from a skip fire – a comment, it seems, on the poor air quality in Port Talbot, home to one of the biggest steelworks in the world.

Hollywood actor Michael Sheen, who was born in the neighbouring village of Baglan, has donated money to fund security efforts and to help foot any legal bills. A representative for the Frost/Nixon actor confirmed that Sheen did not want garage owner Ian Lewis to bear any of the financial burden.

Lewis, 55, a steelworker, has revealed that the arrival of the mural has been keeping him up at night. “It started off as fun, but now it’s gone to stress,” he told Sky News. “It’s down to not sleeping, but now I’ve got the security there it’s taken that weight off me […] I’ve never experienced anything like this. My phone is ringing — on my house phone there’s 1,000 messages.”

Asked what he planned to do with the mural, Lewis, who has not yet received any offers, said: “I’m really just rolling with it at the moment and I don’t know where it’s going … I am very pleased. I think it is a smashing piece of artwork. It is good for the town and I just want to protect it, and it is here for everybody.”

More than 2,000 visitors have already turned up at the site in the Taibach area of Port Talbot to see the artwork.

'Season's Greetings', the latest artwork by guerrilla artist Banksy. Getty Images
'Season's Greetings', the latest artwork by guerrilla artist Banksy. Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

“It’s lovely because it brings over a number of messages," local resident Kirstin Tucker said in an interview with AFP. "When you first look at it from this angle it just looks like there’s a little child out there in the snow playing.

“But when you see the flames and the pollution that comes around from the other side of the picture, it brings out the thoughts of what Port Talbot was all about, the industrial side of things and the history.”

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Read more:

Inside Banksy's The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem

'I don’t know how his mind works': what it's really like working with the elusive street artist Banksy

The virtual-reality art show that seeks to repair our 'broken connection with nature'

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Updated: December 23, 2018 11:41 AM

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