Banksy’s new artwork was removed several days ago due to a strict no graffiti policy on the Tube.
The anonymous street artist uploaded a short video to Instagram and YouTube yesterday afternoon with the caption, ‘If you don’t mask – you don’t get.’
The clip showed Banksy spray painting some of his famous rats inside a London Underground train carriage on the Circle Line.
One rat was portrayed sneezing green droplets across the train window, indicating the spread of coronavirus.
A Transport for London (TfL) spokesperson said the work was removed ‘some days ago’ but said Banksy would be welcome to recreate his message ‘in a suitable location’.
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They added: ‘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.’
The minute-long clip shows a man, believed to be the anonymous artist, entering an Underground station wearing a protective suit, as if to begin a deep clean.
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, known for his thought-provoking political works, leaving the train and station.
The Tube doors close revealing 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.
The new artwork comes after a Banksy painting portraying Parliament overrun by chimpanzees sold for a record price for the elusive artist in October 2019.
‘Devolved Parliament’ was put up for auction at Sotheby’s in London and sold for millions after 13 minutes of bidding from 10 determined art enthusiasts.
It sold for £9,879,500. Ahead of it going under the hammer, the artwork was given a guide price of between £1.5 million to £2 million.
The painting comfortably beat the previous auction record for a Banksy piece – $1.9 million, or £1.5 million, for Keep It Spotless which was sold at Sotheby’s in New York.
And two years ago the artist hit the headlines when a £1 million painting shredded itself moments after it was sold at London’s Sotheby’s.
Girl With Balloon is one of Banksy’s most widely recognised works with the stencil spray painting showing a girl reaching towards a heart-shaped balloon.
After the stunt, the artist revealed it hadn’t gone entirely to plan as he’d hoped to shred the entire painting rather than the half that was torn.
The Government paid a £1.6 billion bailout package to TfL in May to help keep Tube and bus services running until September.
Mayor Sadiq Khan warned the body was close to running out of money during lockdown and would have to operate a reduced service to survive.
Artist Banksy, known for his thought-provoking and political works, has created a number of pieces during lockdown.
In April, he created a series of rats causing mayhem in his bathroom in Bristol and posted the caption: ‘My wife hates it when I work from home.’
Later that month, a large face mask was placed on his world-famous piece The Girl With The Pierced Eardrum on Bristol harbourside.
An artwork entitled Game Changer, showing an NHS nurse as a superhero toy, went on display at Southampton General Hospital in May.
In June, Banksy posted a piece inspired by Black Lives Matter with a caption, part of which read: ‘People of colour are being failed by the system.’
The following day, a statue of slave trader Edward Colston was toppled by protesters in Bristol and thrown into the harbour during a Black Lives Matter march.
Banksy posted a sketch showing his idea for the empty plinth – retrieving the statue from the water, putting it back on the plinth with cables around its neck and life-size bronze statues of protesters pulling it down.
He finished the caption by stating: ‘A famous day commemorated.’
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