Nary a week creeps by without some news regarding our favorite art outlaw turned high art demigod, BANKSY, but this week's notice in the EVENING STANDARD that the London district of Islington has given Banksy's street works official protection was trumped only by the revelation that Islington's city workers were now being trained as art conservators (using taxpayers' funds) so that they are able to touch up and otherwise mend Banksy's street installations that get defaced by other taggers:
COUNCIL ADDS ITS OWN TOUCH TO A BANKSY
By Jack Lefley, Evening Standard
Works by maverick street artist Banksy are being restored by council workers to protect them from graffiti vandals. One piece in Islington has been repaired five times by workmen who paint over the offending "tags". A worker was spotted retouching the artist's "Tate Gallery" piece in Martineau Road, near Arsenal's Emirates Stadium.
Banksy's work sells for six-figure sums to Hollywood stars such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. But some of his pieces that appear in public places without permission have been condemned as vandalism. Tower Hamlets council has threatened to remove any work by the artist that appears on its patch without permission.
But it seems that Islington makes a clear distinction between his creations and that of the graffiti vandals " tagging" over his work. One onlooker thought the workmen were about to remove the piece in Islington on Monday afternoon and stopped to remonstrate with them. Vicky Bamforth, 40, of Hackney, said: "I was driving past and got out because I thought they were about to try to get rid of it. I asked them what they were doing and they were very cagey. But eventually they admitted that it kept getting vandalised and they were repairing it."
She added: "A lot of people in the area really like Banksy's work and it's a bit worrying the council thinks anyone with a paintbrush is qualified to restore pieces worth thousands. "At what point does it stop being a Banksy and start being a collaboration with Islington council?"
Islington today defended its policy to clean up and repair the artist's work. It insisted it was spending taxpayers' money on the operation in response to residents' demands. Deputy leader and executive member for environment, Lucy Watt, said: "We take a very hard line on graffiti and remove it within 24 hours when it is reported to us. However, residents have been telling us Banksy is in a class of his own, his art sells for thousands, and they don't want us to remove the work. Because of the quality and renown of Banksy's work in Islington many people want to see it preserved."
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