Everybody knows about Banksy. The most elusive artist has been known for works such as Mobile Lovers and Well Hung Man…
He’s an artist that has political background to his work. His creation of Dismaland in Weston Super Mare on the surface was a parody of Disneyland, where everything is happy and perfect. But upon further inspection, Dismaland held displays of a whale jumping out of a toilet boil through a hoola-hoop, and refugees on a boat heading for the White Cliffs of Dover.
Bristol based, Banksy has remained anonymous for years. Of course, people claim to know the man. Others enjoy the mystery. It’s all part of the charm.
In 2018, for the first time, and shortly after the abolishment of the Severn Bridge tolls, Banksy appeared in Wales.
His work featured a child in the snow, catching flakes on his tongue. It appeared on a garage in Port Talbot.
It appeared in December, before Christmas. On the other side of the garage, around the corner, it’s revealed that the snow comes from a burning waste bin. The child is catching ash on his tongue.
Port Talbot, and even the location of the painting in Port Talbot, was not chosen randomly. A video that appeared on Banksy’s official Instagram page, confirming the work was his, showed a drone rising up to reveal the famous Port Talbot steelworks behind the garage.
Port Talbot is known as a place that is tired and polluted. The steelworks pollute the air. It was even claimed that children of Port Talbot really did play in ashes.
The work drew in tourists from all over, with some people arriving from Australia.
Being Welsh, and having visited Dismaland in the past, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to go and see the work myself, before it was protected with glass. At the time, the man who owned the garage was struggling to keep the work safe, with actor Michael Sheen donating money to fund temporary glass enclosure.
I went down on the Saturday before Christmas, and there were a lot of crowds all there to see Wales’s first Banksy piece.
It was definitely worth seeing! I’m not a huge art fan, but Banksy has caught my interest because of his anonymity. We were very lucky, as we were allowed to go behind the fence that had been erected to deter vandals, and so we could have a photograph with the work behind us.
Whilst there, the Perspex glass began to arrive, and we watched as the work was protected.
Now, the owner has sold the graffiti to a gallery in Essex. The boy in the snow will stay in Port Talbot for up to three years, before going on display elsewhere.
Catch it whilst you can!