Banksy artwork owner ‘saddened’ by public display plans

The owner of Banksy’s first artwork in Wales has criticised a council’s plans to put it on public view for just 12 hours after being locked away for seven months.

The Season’s Greetings mural, which shows a child dressed for snow playing in the falling ash and smoke from a skip fire, has been kept from public view since it was cut from the side of a steelworker’s garage in Port Talbot in May.

On Monday, art dealer John Brandler, who bought the piece for a six-figure sum, said he was “saddened” that Neath Port Talbot Council had only given the public a 48-hour notice the piece would be put on public display for 12 hours between Wednesday and Friday this week.

He told the PA news agency: “When are people going to come and look at this?

“I’m pleased it’s being opened to the public, but why do it on a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday? Why not a Saturday or Sunday?

Garage with Banksy artwork
The artwork appeared on a garage wall in Taibach, Port Talbot (Ben Birchall/PA)

“I’m so saddened by the whole thing. It should have been an amazing opportunity for the town.”

He added: “I think this is being used as an excuse, that the authorities say ‘We opened it to the public but only X people came, so there is no point in opening a museum’.”

Essex-based Mr Brandler criticised the exhibit only being open between 11am and 3pm, saying most workers and children in school would miss out, and said he had not been invited by the council to the opening.

He had agreed for the piece to stay in an unused Ty’r Orsaf building in Port Talbot for up to three years so it could be viewed by locals and attract art fans from across the country.

He previously said his plans to turn the space into an international street art museum featuring other pieces in his collection had been frustrated by the council.

The mural was covered in resin and cut from the wall of a garage owned by steelworker Ian Lewis in the Taibach area of Port Talbot, before being loaded onto the back of a lorry and escorted by police to its current location.

Councillor Annette Wingrave, Neath Port Talbot Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and sustainable development, said: “We are delighted to be able to open the artwork to the public this week and we have been working hard with other agencies to come up with ideas for a permanent display.

“With security, staffing and other costs, the council cannot do this alone but it is hoped that working with others we can come up with a solution.”

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