A Very Banksy Christmas? The Mysterious Street Artist Just Left a New Mural in an Industrial Welsh Town, Saying ‘Seasons Greetings’
The new work acknowledges Port Talbot as home to the largest steel plant in the UK.
Locals in the Welsh town of Port Talbot—the most polluted area in the UK, and one of the nation’s “most deprived,” according to the BBC—woke up to an early Christmas present on Wednesday morning: a new painting by Banksy.
After a brief period of suspense and speculation, the mysterious street artist confirmed the work as genuine by posting it on his website in the late afternoon. A separate post on his verified Instagram account featured the new work, with the artist commenting: “season’s greetings.”
“There were people coming here all night” to see the artwork, property owner Ian Lewis told the BBC. “I am very pleased, I think it is a smashing bit of artwork. It is good for the town and I just want to protect it, and it is here for everybody.”
Painted on the wall of a garage, the painting depicts a child playing in falling ash emanating from a dumpster fire, perhaps commenting on environmental issues associated with the town’s industrial heritage.
Port Talbot, located about seven miles east of Swansea, is home to the largest steel plant in the UK. Black dust, a byproduct from the giant local plant, has been known to covers swathes of the town. In July, during a particularly dry spell that exacerbated the problem, many locals complained of respiratory issues as a layer of soot settled on streets, cars, and even pets.
Local councillor Nigel Thomas Hunt told the BBC the location of the work was highly significant. “The placing of the work is very clever, in between the blast furnace and the M4 [highway], yards from where [Welsh actor] Richard Burton was brought up and where we’ve had bonfires for years,” he said. “You can look at the painting and see the furnaces in the background.”
A spokesman for the Neath Port Talbot council told the Independent, “The Council is sending officers to liaise with the property holder to assist in protecting this artwork. However it must be remembered that the artwork is on private property.”
Workmen put a fence around the garage in the early hours of Wednesday morning to protect the artwork.
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