Professional London decorators have come to realise that stolen or disappearing Banksy artwork has almost become an annual trend. The latest Banksy artwork in question is a mural of a young boy kneeling beside a sewing machine, busy making a Union Jack bunting. Titled Slave Labour, the mural is said to depict sweat shops and child labour. It found its way on a wall in Wood Green, North London right before the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in May last year.
Banksy is known for his bold artwork using the city’s walls and bridges as his canvas. His work typically depicts his take on society, and extends to many other cities across the globe.
Since he began etching his graffiti art across London in the late ‘80s, his unique stencilling technique became quite popular. Consequently, the sudden disappearance of his artwork from Wood Green, situated in the London Borough of Haringey, has gained much speculation among professional London decorators and residents of the neighbourhood.
Slave Labour was to have been auctioned in Miami later. But the much anticipated sale of the mural, which was predicted to generate around £450,000, is said to have been withdrawn.
Fine Arts Auction Miami (FAMM), the auction house behind the sale in Miami, has confirmed that the sale of Slave Labour and Wet Dog, yet another Banksy work, has been cancelled. A spokesperson merely confirmed that there were no legal reasons for cancelling the sale, but did not cite any specific reasons for the decision.
Members of the Haringey Council believe that their efforts in campaigning to retain this Banksy work in their community have paid off. Banksy, one of Britain’s most favourite contemporary artists, is at the risk of losing some of his native audience with many of his older works perishing and most of his newer works sold out.
Meanwhile, a new mural has come up near the Poundland store where Slave labour was depicted. Covering the exact dimensions of the recently removed mural, the new one is that of a nun with a bright red star over her right eye and grim, upturned lips.
A local artist has added a red heart to this mural. It has not been confirmed if the new mural is a Banksy work. Residents in the neighbourhood are disappointed over the disappearance of Slave Labour, despite the appearance of the new mural in its place.
In previous incidents, two of Banksy’s works have been stolen from a London gallery in May 2010. The very next year, yet another Banksy piece was ripped off a hotel wall in Central London. Despite both these incidents, both FAAM and Scotland Yard have said that the Slave Labour mural has not been stolen but merely removed from public display and from the auction.
Speculations are also rife about the artist behind the new mural to take its place. Professional London decorators are not certain if it is indeed yet another Banksy art. Despite all these speculations, the usually reserved artist continues to maintain his silence.