A Banksy stencil painting has been removed by Clacton Council after a complaint of racism. The mural which showed a cluster of pigeons holding anti-immigration banners was deemed too controversial and open for misinterpretation to remain in situ. The work of art located in the seaside town of Clacton-on-Sea is a key political hotspot as a by-election is to take place following the local MP’s defection to UKIP, a political party noted for their anti-imigration policies. On 9 October, voting in the Clacton by-election, spurred by Douglas Carswell’s defection from the Tories to UKIP, will take place.
The local council, which painted over the mural said it did not know it was by Banksy. The District Council said it received a complaint that the mural was “offensive” and “racist”. Banksy posted pictures of the work on his website which is the only clear way of authenticating his work as there are many imitations..
But by the time it had been announced, the mural had already been removed due to the complaint received on Tuesday. Nigel Brown, communications manager for the council, said: “The site was inspected by staff who agreed that it could be seen as offensive and it was removed this morning in line with our policy to remove this type of material within 48 hours. “We would obviously welcome an appropriate Banksy original on any of our seafronts and would be delighted if he returned in the future.”
Banksy is a legendary graffiti artist. His work typically includes satirical social and political commentary, and ranges from murals to sculpture and installation, often playing with the contextual aspects of the work. The artist’s first solo show was held in 2002 at Los Angeles’ 33 1/3 Gallery, and in 2003 he was commissioned to design to cover of Blur’s ThinkTank. Today, Banksy’s work appears internationally; most notably, he painted nine sardonic images on the Palestinian side of the West Bank barrier. In Summer 2009, Banksy took over the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery with an exhibition attracting over 300,000 visitors and hour-long queues all the way down the road. Most recently the artist has experimented with film, achieving an Oscar nomination for his documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop. Consistently controversial, Banksy is described by some as genius and others as a vandal. Regardless of whether he is inspiring admiration or provoking outrage, his name is one that is well-known around the world.