Earlier today Banksy took to Instagram to comment on the fate of the artist’s 2017 Brexit mural in Dover. ‘Oh,’ wrote Banksy, ‘I had planned that on the day of Brexit I was going to change the piece in Dover to this.. But seems they’ve painted over it. Nevermind. I guess a big white flag says it just as well.’
What Banksy is referring to is the disappearance of the mural the artist painted on May 7th, 2017 of a man on a ladder beginning to chip away at one of the stars on the EU flag. The star that was being removed, of course, represented Britain after it was voted on that the it would exit the EU in 2016. However, on August 25th, the mural on the side of a building that was once the Castle Amusements building was covered with scaffolding and a coat of white paint.
Since the removal of the painting, many have been angered by the action, including MP Charlie Elphicke who blamed Historic England for the removal of the work when he took to Twitter saying:
‘Very disappointed by the disappearance of the Dover Banksy. A culturally iconic statement on our times. We asked Historic England to use their powers to protect this work but they refused. This is the result. They should hang their heads in shame.’
Many other Twitter users echoed Elphicke’s frustration but Historic England responded saying that they were unable to do anything about the Banksy because it was not yet old enough to list.
Very disappointed by the disappearance of the Dover Banksy. A culturally iconic statement on our times. We asked Historic England to se their powers to protect this work but they refused. This is the result. They should hang their heads in shame. pic.twitter.com/CZC3V7BJzZ
— Charlie Elphicke (@CharlieElphicke) August 26, 2019
John Brandler, an expert on the street artist and the man who bought Banksy’s 2018 Season’s Greetings mural that popped up in Wales, also commented on the incident. The day after the mural was covered with scaffolding Brandler told KMTV that he was ‘flabbergasted.’ He continued saying that if the town did paint over the artwork it would be ‘an act of sacrilege.’ At that time, Brandler had hoped the scaffolding meant that the town was working to preserve and stabilize the work. Unfortunately, it seems that was not the intent and his worst fears were about to come true.
The placement of the mural was strategic so that as people headed toward Dover’s Eastern Docks, which see people going to and from mainland Europe, would have a clear view of the mural at all times. In Banksy’s Instagram post, the street artist showed a rendering of what the artist had intended for the mural alongside what has happened to it. If it had remained, Banksy would have painted over the flag, leaving the man on the ladder and Britain’s star, while the EU flag laid crumpled at the base of the building. Unfortunately, that might never be realized now, and as Banksy said, the white wall leaves a different, yet poignant all the same, message.