Tube commuters were offered a glimpse of Banksy’s latest graffiti work after he unveiled a pandemic-inspired mural on the London Underground.
In a video posted to Instagram on Tuesday afternoon, the elusive graffiti artist – renowned for his thought-provoking political works – revealed his latest coronavirus-inspired piece, titled: ‘If you don’t mask, you don’t get’.
Part of the work shows an image of a rat removing its face mask and sneezing out a green liquid, which splatters across the carriage window. Lovely.
The minute-long clip shows a man, believed to be the anonymous artist, entering a London Underground station wearing a protective suit, as if to begin a deep clean.
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But it quickly becomes clear that the tank he’s holding is full of spray paint instead of cleaning fluid, as various scenes show him spray painting stencil pieces on the window and walls of the Tube carriage.
Other works show rats using discarded masks as parachutes, as well as one using antibacterial gel – a clear reference to the pandemic and the measures put in place to help stop the spread of the virus.
The video ends with the artist leaving the Circle Line carriage, work complete, showing his final hand-graffitied message reading ‘I get lockdown – but I get up again’ – a nod to the 1997 lyric in Chumbawamba’s hit song, Tubthumping.
However, Transport for London (TfL) said in a statement that it had removed the artwork due its ‘strict anti-graffiti policy’.
TfL said: ‘We appreciate the sentiment of encouraging people to wear face coverings, which the vast majority of customers on our transport network are doing.
‘In this particular case, the work was removed some days ago due to our strict anti-graffiti policy.
‘We’d like to offer Banksy the chance to do a new version of his message for our customers in a suitable location.’
Early on in his career Banksy, originally from Bristol, often spray painted rats and monkeys on to Tube trains.
And it seems as though the renowned artist’s latest work is going down well despite its removal, with social media users heaping praise on Banksy, writing ‘the ending is everything’ and ‘this man is a legend’.
Another fan notes that this marks an extremely rare occurrence where the public may be getting a glimpse of the secretive creator, writing: ‘That’s the first time we see a bit of Banksy’s face’.
The unveiling of the work came shortly after the government announced on Monday night that face masks must be worn in all shops in England from July 24.
Anyone who does not follow the guidance could face a fine of up to £100, No 10 said.
Shop staff can also refuse entry to people not wearing face masks and even call the police on those who do not comply with the new rules.
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