Port Talbot Banksy art could be moved, says council

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Media caption,

Ian Lewis has said he "needs help" to look after the artwork

A Bansky artwork painted on a south Wales garage could be removed and relocated to safeguard it for the community, a local council has offered.

Neath Port Talbot officials said the authority would meet the full cost of "loaning" the graffiti to the public "on a permanent basis".

The Port Talbot garage owner says he is considering a number of offers and is to meet with interested parties soon.

The council said ultimately, the artwork belonged to the garage owner.

They said it made a proposal for the art piece to owner Ian Lewis on Monday, after he had spoken to BBC Wales about his concerns.

"The council said they could move it but I'd already had other offers to do that at that point," said Mr Lewis on Tuesday.

"I just wanted to wait and have a look at all the other options in my own time so I could come to a proper decision."

Image caption,
The Banksy belongs to the garage's owner, Ian Lewis

The council said it had offered to "remove, store and relocate" the artwork at a location "to be decided following a public consultation".

"We have proposed to meet the cost in full - including a like for like replacement garage - but Mr Lewis has refused the offer of a meeting to discuss the matter further."

But Mr Lewis said he "wasn't refusing their help - it just seems to be a misunderstanding".

"I now have meetings set up with various organisations and politicians. I'm grateful for all the help and I just want to now pick the right option."

Mr Lewis said the appearance of the artwork in December had been "very, very stressful and very surreal".

He told BBC Wales earlier this week that he was struggling to cope with what he said was in excess of a thousand visitors a day.

"It's just all been so much for me. I'm actually managing an arts attraction by myself."

Image caption,
The artwork has been protected by plastic sheets and fencing, as thousands still flock to see it

Michael Sheen, the local film and TV star, has helped fund the cost of protecting the graffiti, but said more needed to be done to help Mr Lewis and secure the artwork's future in Port Talbot.

The council said its priority was to "preserve and protect this exciting example of modern urban art".

"Ultimately it is not our property and the future of the artwork and its impact on surrounding residents lies solely with the garage owner," added an official.

Media caption,

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