On the side of a house in the Barton Hill area of Bristol, Banksy has painted what people are calling a Valentine’s Day mural. The work depicts a child using a slingshot to catapult an explosion of red flowers into the air.
The mural was confirmed to be a Banksy when the anonymous artist posted two of its images on their Instagram at midnight on February 14th.
The aftermath of the Valentine’s Day Banksy
Before Banksy confirmed that this work was theirs, people were already flocking to the sight suspecting that it was a work of the famous, yet secretive British artist.
Bristol is Banksy’s hometown and it’s likely that he has many adoring fans in the city who knows his work well. Many were convinced from the beginning it was a Banksy.
Kelly Woodruff, who co-owns the property where the mural was created with her father was thrilled that Banksy’s work appeared on her wall. In fact, she wasn’t even the first to know about it. She found out after being tagged in a post about it on Facebook.
The next step for the homeowners is figuring out how to preserve the work and protect it from looting and vandalism. Banksy also left a bundle of flowers on a nearby street sign to tie the piece together, but those had been stolen only hours after the mural’s appearance.
To start, a piece of plastic had been covering the mural since Thursday night. The family has contacted the Bristol City Council’s street maintenance department for assistance and have been advised to get in touch with the International Fine Art Conservation Studios to look into taking the next steps.
But unfortunately, within only 48 hours, the plastic had been pulled off and the work has been vandalized with an offensive phrase painted in bright pink spray paint. Woodruff, who was ecstatic about the Banksy piece showing up on her wall is now “devastated.”
Banksy and Private Property
Not everyone who is graced with some Banksy love on their property was as excited as Woodruff, however. Back in December 2018 and a week before Christmas, the painted a Season’s Greetings mural on Ian Lewis’ garage in the Welsh town of Port Talbot.
Lewis told BBC Wales that dealing with the aftermath had been “very, very stressful and very surreal.” With thousands of people coming onto his property to see the piece, Lewis struggled with the responsibility of caring for the art that was thrust upon him.
At first, Lewis protected Season’s Greetings thinking it was just a nice bit of art before it went viral on Facebook that it was Banksy’s work. Since then, it’s been quite a financial burden for Lewis and he admitted being happier before the ordeal took place.
A year later, Season’s Greetings was purchased by gallery owner John Brandler for a six-figure price tag on the condition it would stay in Port Talbot for three years. It was only on display for a total of 36 hours, which Brandler was upset about, but the security issues surrounding a Banksy piece proved to be too much for the local council to handle at the time.
We’ll see how the Banksy Valentine’s Day mural plays out over the next few weeks and if the homeowners are still feeling “super excited” about this “incredible and beautiful” piece on their private property.
Banksy’s Valentine’s Day Mural
It makes sense why so many people came to see the mural before it had been confirmed to be a Banksy. It’s teeming with his signature style and fits right in with the artist’s other work done in a similar motif such as Season’s Greetings or Girl with Balloon.
Banksy seems to be on a festive streak as well, with this Valentine’s Day message coming after his reindeer artwork painted near a bench in Birmingham in December 2019. Should the art world be expecting more Banksy work for more upcoming major holidays? Is this a theme?
Overall, one of the most interesting things about Banksy’s artwork springing up out of nowhere like this is their connection to social media. Facebook was used to alert this Bristol homeowner of Valentine’s Day mural location, Instagram was used to confirm his as the artist of the piece, and surely social media has been the catalyst to floods of people visiting the house in the first hours of its unveiling.
Graffiti may be a 20th-century art form, but the way he seems to always integrate social media definitely takes his art into the new generation.
How do you feel about Banksy’s latest work? Would you be excited to wake up one morning with a Banksy masterpiece on your property? Should the artist be in a better position to help with the security and protection of their work? Or is it part of the art to see how the world reacts to truly public pieces?
As we can see from what happened with Banksy’s Valentine’s Day mural, it seems there will always be people who want to ruin a good thing. It’s interesting that he doesn’t get involved in protecting their work on public buildings but perhaps these acts of vandalism are all part of the artistic journey.
To see the Valentine’s Day Banksy mural, you can find the house in Barton Hill just east of the city center and Bristol Temple Meads train station.
Look out for more updates on this evolving story.