A long-lost Banksy artwork known as the Snorting Copper has recently been rediscovered in Hackney, and restored.
Ten years after Hackney Council had the mural painted over on Curtain Road, two London-based property developers bought the site they believed the mural to be on. They disassembled the bricks and took them to a restoration centre in Carlisle, Cumbria where they attempted to separate the council’s paint from Banksy’s.
The developers Jonathan Ellis and David Kyte told the Guardian: “It’s an amazing piece. We’ve had offers to sell it, but we want to put it back. We think that’s the right thing to do for the public to enjoy it. I’m proud to be able to do something like that.”
The piece – thought to be worth over £1m – was unveiled on October 8 with the Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, present at the ceremony.
This marks the latest in a significant shift regarding graffiti in London. Hackney Council used to often remove or conceal previous Banksy works, but as he grew in popularity (particularly after the release of his academy award-winning documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop, in 2011) local authorities have been more hospitable to Banksy’s art and the subculture overall.
Hackney Council especially have commissioned many street-art style murals in the years leading up to and since the London 2012 Olympics.
Yesterday a spokesperson explained that if owners of a piece of property in the borough wished to keep graffiti that had appeared on it, they could let the council know.
A spokesperson for Hackney Council told Eastlondonlines: “We recognise that street art can make a positive contribution to the look of the borough and if a property has a piece of street art or mural on it, owners can contact the council to let us know that they want to keep it.
“We have a policy in place to remove street art or graffiti if we believe it spoils the environment or will prevent people from enjoying an area.”
Some however, still feel the council does not do enough to encourage street art. Local artist Hatti Rex spoke to EastLondonLines, pointing out that council will pay pre-approved artists to create murals in an area while covering up originals made by locals.
Rex said: “I’m glad that someone is getting paid, but in reality, it should be the people putting up work organically. I find it laughable that the new builds on Roach Road have tried to make their boards look as #streetart possible whilst they literally wipe off spray paint from there every day.
“At the bare minimum, they should hire resident creatives as they’re already pricing them out of their homes and studios.”
This conflict between non-commissioned and commissioned street art in Hackney was evidenced earlier this year, when a local graffiti artist going by the name Edwin painted over a mural commissioned by the Hackney Council with a message.
Days apart. London is constantly changing at a rate only the locals can really feel. Rent anywhere near overground and underground trains is through the roof. You can expect to pay close to 50% of your paycheck on rent. If you choose to live further out you'll seclude yourself and pay in travel expenses. #londonrentals #rent #london #hackneywick it's a shame this art work was damaged like this.
The defaced mural read:
‘For just a moment this pretty face and octopus has made me forget that my rent has doubled and that my neighbourhood is being destroyed.’
Rex said: “I think that pretty much sums up how people feel on the issue, although some of the newer residents are genuinely complaining in the local Facebook group that their post boxes have been ‘vandalised’ with graffiti. That’s just what Hackney Wick is like and I don’t see why you’d move there under the assumption that it wouldn’t happen.”
Edwin soon afterwards removed his statement and replaced it with another message.
*UPDATE* the pretty lady and octopus street art that was once there has now returned. All is well once again in the wick. Thanks Edwin / @edwinonwalls • • • • #hackneywick #edwinonwalls #edwin #prettylady #octopus #irony #streetart #lovelystreetart #graffiti #girlsofinstamgram #belieber #wildlife #seamonsters #roller #lifeisbeautiful #instaanimal #lomdon #londonstreetart #londongraffiti