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Journalist saves Banksy artwork from cleaners

An art-loving journalist from a weekly newspaper saved a Banksy mural from being washed off by council cleaners.

Richard Morris, chief reporter at the Hastings Observer, discovered last week the world famous street artist had created a piece of artwork on St Leonards’ seafront.

He took a call from an excited art fan who had stumbled across the mural but had also seen an anti-graffiti team from Hastings Borough Council heading along the beach towards it.

The news led to Richard frantically calling the council to prevent the cleaning team destroying the mural, pictured below, which shows a little girl building sandcastles with the word Tesco on them.

Richard said: “As soon as we heard about the Banksy, everyone was really excited – especially as the town is holding its annual arts festival this month.

“However, our council has a zero tolerance approach to graffiti and so I made a frantic phone call to the town hall press officer to get them to call off the cleaners.

“To start with it looked like it might be washed off but I managed to convince them to hang on until we got it authenticated.”

News of the new artwork spread among art fans across the globe and Banksy’s close friend Ben Eine confirmed it was a genuine piece by the anonymous artist.

Richard added: “Here in Hastings we have had a lot of fuss lately over a pub which painted a skull frontage, with the council umming and ahhing about whether it can stay or not. I think they were worried letting the Banksy stay would set a precedent.

“Thankfully though the councillors saw sense and it looks like the Banksy is here to stay – at least until the sea washes it off.”


localhack (01/09/2010 10:13:52)
Surely it would have been a better story if he’d taken pictures of the council cleaners scrubbing it off?

notquitesocynical (01/09/2010 11:40:01)
Localhack, you have no soul. Anti-graffiti patrols have washed off Banksy(ie)s before, and been photographed doing it, so that would have been old news. This story, however, is unique – and positive. There is more to news than getting angry about a negative issue; hooray for Richard and Hastings council!

Peter Chowney (02/09/2010 09:17:39)
All complete nonsense of course … The Observer were given a press release about it, but by the time they got around to contacting the council, we’d already decided to keep it. And it was me (Hastings council’s lead member for regeneration)wot done it, not Richard Morris!

Richard Morris (02/09/2010 09:56:13)
I think Cllr Chowney is the one who needs to get his facts right.
I contacted his press team, sent them a photo of the Banksy AND asked them not to paint over it after a worried resident had said the anti-graffiti team was working its way down the beach towards it.
I was then told later that day that it would be left up while a decision was made.
The press release he is talking about came out much later. Not even the same day.
And the decision to keep it up was no made until around noon on the Thursday. I know because I was waiting on the verdict to write the story the the next day’s paper.