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Community Life

You are in: London > London Local > Hackney > Community Life > Hackney Council 'clean up' Banksy

Banksypainting detail

Hackney Council 'clean up' Banksy

A painting by graffiti artist Banksy, described as 'provocative but humorous', has been partially removed by the council. Local residents say they should have been consulted first.

His paintings may fetch well over £100,000 at auction, but that didn’t stop the Hackney Graffiti Removal Unit from adding their own finishing touches to one of his latest works.

The removal unit

The Banksy which appeared a couple of months ago on the side of a Vietnamese Restaurant in Victoria Park Road amused many locals.† It depicted an old-fashioned artist, complete with paint-box and palette, delicately scrawling a giant graffiti-style phallus.†

Banksy painting palette detail

The removal team chose to leave the picture of the artist in place but their attempts to remove the phallus were not 100% successful - the outline is still clearly visible.† Some of the picture’s subtlety has been lost though.† Previously the outline was depicted in the same blue as the paint on the artist’s brush and palette.

"We’ve been given a work of art. It’s a shame the council have defaced it."

Dina Bornat

Big shame.

Linh Vu, co-owner of Namo, the restaurant whose wall hosts the picture believes it† fitted well on the end-wall, cheering up the street.† “It’s provocative but humorous and makes life less dreary” she says, adding that the council's action is at odds with the artistic nature of the area.† "They try to promote Hackney as diverse and cultural and then they do this.”†

Other local people are annoyed too.† Dina Bornat, a local resident told BBC London, “We’ve been given a work of art.† It’s a shame the council have defaced it”.

Jenny† Konko, who chairs the Victoria Park Traders’ Association says “I wish they’d asked local people before taking action.† We’ve only ever heard positive comments about it from customers in the shop”.

Hackney and Banksy have 'history'.

Hackney Council have run into controversy before, when they removed Banksy’s work from Gillett Square just before the newly renovated arts-quarter was officially opened.†

The decision to leave part of the Banksy, effectively censoring it, appears to be a departure for the council.††Fiona Fletcher Smith, Director of Neighbourhoods and Regeneration, said:

The Banksy on the restaurant wall.

“Hackney Council has a clear obligation to keep its streets clean and to remove racist or offensive graffiti. Most people would rather not have pictures of penises daubed on walls in their area. If whoever painted it would like to come along to discuss our policy, I’m sure the Council enforcement team or police will be keen to talk to them.”

If you have a photo of a Banksy near you, send it with a note of its location to for our Banksy gallery.

last updated: 02/04/2008 at 17:02
created: 29/11/2007

Have Your Say

Were Hackney right to tamper with the Banksy? Should they have removed it all if they were clearing graffiti?

I'm not sure it really matters if they take it away or in this case give a poor attempt of censorship - it should be a choice of the local residents, they live there. The main point is that it was done in the first place, and you cannot remove it from the history books. Banksy most likely loves his publicity, as do I. He is a true artist creating pieces which provoke thought and amusement, brightening up otherwise dreary areas. He may possibly be 'arrogant', nay, of course he is, he is an artist! Long live Banksy!

Hackney were completely right to get rid of graffiti. How dare arrogant "graffiti artists" deface our public spaces. Let them use canvases or better still, not bother at all

if anyone other than Banksy had produced the image it would have been removed and I am pretty sure the residents would have been complaining from the second it appeared.I don't dislike Banksy's work - but at the end of the day he is causing crimminal damage and his work should be treated the same as everyone elses and removedSurely thats what the point of his work is anyway - Its not meant to be permanent

murray clark
The arrogant attitude of Fiona Fletcher Smith is so typical of council reps. She needs a BIG lesson in public relations, and that might start by listening to public opinion.

Darran Faulkner
Leaving in Hackney myself, I have seen one of Banksy's paintings just of Lower Clapton Road. They are very good. Why don't Hackney Council sort out there other problems like unemployment and Housing issues!!!!!!!!

i love banksy's artwork- he is well talented a far cry from graffiti..yes ordinary LDN graffiti is horrible but is removing this from a wall going to stop it..? NO...

Always about money?Yeah that's why the council are more than happy to shove advertising down our throats. Public spaces should be just that - not full of offensive commercial rubbish. It was okay for TheSun to send women with 10p pieces on their breasts on buses all over London to persuade us to buy more sexist tosh, but not okay for Banksy to paint a one off? Wake up people and let's decide for ourselves what we want to see everyday - don't let governments and multi million corportations decide for you. At least Banksey awakens a bit of a debate.


I think Hackney were wrong to tamper with the Banksy, I think they should leave it well alone, Who ever painted it it should put more up.

the only graffiti worth looking at is banksy most everything else is mindless vandelisum desperatly seeking attention

leeve banksy alone hes just havvin a larf

Graffiti makes a vicinity look ugly. It's because of things like this that I wouldn't go anywhere near Hackey.

john the local lad
get rid of them all they are graffiti.The man is a vandal..AND why is his graffiti worth so much when there are many more graffiti artists whose talent is far superior.DAD"hello son how are you, what do you want to be when you grew up"SON"I'm Bored dad got no job think i will go out and splosh some paint over other peoples property and make a fortune"

Jonezy, Penzance
I think if the Banksy art works brighten an area up by being there, then they should be left alone!Having said that they should also be protected (by a clear plastic cover?) to stop vandals either defacing his original work (tagging) or the idiots who try to stealing it to sell on ebay!

Michael Appleby
Yes Joel Kos, "how could something templated be art anyway"?..... i bet chatting with you is so stimulating........please dnt be blinded to the fact that art is intrinsically linked to our everyday, there are no hard fast rules, just expression and inspiration.


I am sorry but what is all of the hype about? There are plenty of truly talented artists in the UK...

Joel Kos'
Graffiti says that no-one cares, anyone can do it and it's ok. I used to work for the Tube and it cost us TWELVE MILLION QUID annually to clean up, replaced damaged kit and in cancelled train services. Graf is threatening to vulnerable people, and how can something templated be 'art' anyway?

Jeane Trend-Hill
I love Banksy, seeing one always brightens up my day. Lighten up and enjoy the humour!

another banksy masterstroke.. I cycle past it every day. Sure to say that it's an organic painting with the now faintly visible penis which changes intensity every so often.. Like all lauded artists, initial controversy eventually leads to mainstream acceptance.Maybe the Vicky Park Residents should apply for a state grant to get an acrylic housing to protect 'their' banksy. Idiots! Another middle class triumph

no i dont think it should be removed as it is artwork it is likesaying lets destroy the mona lisa it is his work and he has spent time doing it and it shuld be treated like art work


John Sprange
send the graffiti removal men on an art appreciation course.

What is it with BBC London and Banksy? There's almost an article on him every other week.

Surely the point of Banksy's art is that is is not permanent and should not be treated with respect or awe. It is just a transient image of no real significance or worth

David McGinnis
Of course Hackney Council has a right to remove graffiti from public spaces. The huge majority of graffiti says nothing to anyone about anything and shows little or no imagination, creativity, wit or innovation. It's always been hip to romanticise graffiti and to drop the names of Banksy and the far more talented Keith Haring to legitimise graffiti as an art form but the reality is most of is is just inane visual litter. It does not beautify nor does it challenge. It's just stupid selfish vandalism. I am not saying that Banksy is stupid. I have enjoyed his graffiti for years. I just feel that most markings on London walls do nothing for anyone other than the marker. It's an odd decision that Hackney has chosen to 'edit' this particular Banksy piece but their decision is probably based on the obvious fact that Banksy is famous. I doubt they would make a similar decision for a more talented but less famous artist. Hackney Council cannot be expected to hold a beauty contest for everything painted on the walls of the borough. People who paint on walls without permission must expect that their paintings may be removed. It's the nature of graffiti.

Cathy Ellis-Stygal
I drive past this piece of art everyday and it always makes me smile. It is a shame that opinion wasn't sought bfore alterations were made. Would anyone consider altering a piece of work by any other artist that might offend?

Chris (London)
Banksy is over rated, hyped and just a vandal. Because he is famous, they say leave it on the walls? Rubbish. What about all the other grafitti artists? Just because banksy sells for loads of cash, thats why. Its always about the money.

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