Toronto Gets Its Own Permanent Banksy

A construction company has restored the $850,000 work, and designed a public display for it.

Banksy Man with Baloon Dog . Screenshot taken from @adriancheungCBC
Banksy Man with Baloon Dog . Screenshot taken from @adriancheungCBC.

An artwork by Banksy has been unveiled as a gift to the people of Toronto from the construction company that rescued it from demolition.

In a climate where works by the famous street artist can, and do, change hands for hundreds of thousands of dollars, this Canadian construction company has decided to share it with the public rather than selling the piece.

Guard with Balloon Dog, which features a man in police uniform holding a muzzled balloon dog on a lead, has been installed at the PATH Toronto Downtown Public Walkway, behind a pane of glass in a section specially designed to house it.

The artwork was painted by Banksy when he was in the city in 2010 for his Exit Through the Gift Shop tour, and is now worth an estimated $850,000.

Guard with Balloon Dog had been kept in storage by Menkes Development Ltd who acquired the work after buying the building it was painted onto. The company employed a restoration artist to remove the Banksy and surrounding graffiti before destroying the building in 2011, and decided that it wanted to share the work with the public.

“It was originally for the public and we thought “‘Why not save it? Why not give it back to the public?’ And that’s what we’ve done here,” Jared Menkes, vice-president at Menkes, told CBC News.

The work is installed on the walkway in a space with a mirrored work titled Speculum (which translates from Latin as “an instrument to behold”), giving the viewer the impression that two versions of the work flank the path.

The concept was developed by Johnson Chou, who designed the public space for viewing the Banksy piece. The site is also flanked with marble slabs.

“As an apparatus for viewing, Speculum is created to evoke the past, define views and movement, and create an immersive and interpretive installation,” said Chou in a statement.


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