Glasgow & West Scotland

Painted-over Banksy murals to be uncovered

Banksy murals being restored Image copyright FARCO
Image caption The murals were mistakenly pained over in 2007 then left behind when The Arches went into administration

Three early works by the artist Banksy which were accidently painted over with grey emulsion in a Glasgow nightclub are to be restored.

The murals, which feature a gun-toting monkey in a tutu and a framed Mona Lisa, were created as part of an exhibition at The Arches in 2001.

However, they were mistakenly covered in 2007 then left after the club went into administration in 2015.

A team of restorers is due to take five months to uncover the works.

Image copyright FARCO
Image caption The murals were created for an exhibition at The Arches in 2001

Banksy created the works, which also feature the words "Every time I hear the word culture I release the safety on my 9mm" when he was beginning his career as a graffiti artist.

They were shown as part of the "Peace is Tough" exhibition in March 2001, headlined by Jamie Reid, best-known for creating the iconic Sex Pistols Never Mind The Bollocks album cover.

But six years later, and long after Banksy had established himself as an international artist, the murals were covered with grey emulsion during refurbishment work at the nightclub.

'Sell them'

When the club went into administration in 2015, the then owners had considered restoring the murals and selling them to clear the club's debts.

Chris Bull, technical director at Fine Arts Restoration Co (Farco), which is carrying out the restoration, said the murals were the only known works by Banksy in Scotland with any provenance.

He said: "The administrators had sent people into the building to see if they could salvage the works to try and clear some of the debts of the nightclub.

"For some reason they couldn't figure out how to get them off the walls and sell them, so they ended up being left there."

Image copyright FARCO
Image caption The restoration work is expected to last for five months and cost £86,000

The new owners of the venue, Argyle Street Arches, say they now want to save the works for the nation.

They have commissioned Farco to complete the restoration and have launched a crowd-funding drive to finance the project.

'Iron-clad'

Mr Bull added: "It's always been known that they were there. The new owners are happy to be custodians of the works. They have a 20-year lease on the building, after which point they will probably be donated to the people of Glasgow.

"These are the only bona fide, iron-clad works by Banksy with provenance in Scotland.

"For us the whole project its very unusual. The venue is unusual , the way it's funded is unusual."

Image copyright FARCO
Image caption The murals were pained in The Arches nightclub in Glasgow in 2001

Members of the public are invited to view the restoration live at Argyle Street as work progresses from Saturday 11 August.

Once complete the works will be put on permanent display.