An iconic work by Banksy has been destroyed by construction workers in Melbourne – one of the last remaining artworks in Australia by internationally celebrated street artist. The workers accidentally drilled through the piece – depicting a parachuting rat – from the other side of the wall in order to create a sizeable hole for a network of pipes for a new cafe.
Local businesses described the loss as ‘devastating’ for the area: ‘If it had been 20cm higher or 20cm to the side this would never have happened’, said one. ‘This should have been avoided’, she added; ‘It’s not a big piece, but it is one of the few remaining Banksy’s in Melbourne’. But then again was it really anybody’s fault? After all, ‘The workers who were involved in it had no idea what that had done and they were very nice about it and they saved what they could.’
But Graffiti blogger Fletcher Andersen says that more need to be done to protect street art: ‘There needs to be a process to take things like this into consideration’, he said; There was obviously a permit for demolition of part of the wall, but what was lacking was about the street art on the wall and that’s something that Stonnington Council, and in fact all councils, need to look at when it comes to approving developments.’ Wait. Street art is still illegal in Australia, right?
Banksy’s 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.
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