Work starts to restore painted-over Banksy murals

image copyrightFARCO
image captionThe murals were created for an exhibition at The Arches in 2001

Restoration work is under way on three early works by the artist Banksy which were accidently painted over with grey emulsion in a Glasgow nightclub.

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.

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

A team of restorers are expected to take five months to uncover the works.

Members of the public could view the restoration live at Argyle Street as work began on Saturday.

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.

image captionThe painstaking work is expected to take up to five months to complete

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.

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.

And he said bringing them back is a time-consuming job.

Mr Bull said: "It is done using solvents to strip back the layers of grey paint.

"It is a pretty technical job and it needs to be done by a professional but it is possible.

"When you remove the grey paint and find the artwork underneath it is very rewarding."

image captionA projector beams the original on to the wall to help the team restore the murals to their former glory

He said a combination of solvents are used to soften the paint before it can be stripped back.

The chemicals then have to be neutralised so they don't damage the artwork.

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.

Once complete the works will be put on permanent display.

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