North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale has said the local council’s decision to dismantle a new Banksy artwork in Margate was “heavy-handed” and hopes it can be “preserved and displayed safely so that as many people as possible can see it”.
On Tuesday, Thanet District Council confirmed it had removed the real-life chest freezer incorporated into the wall painting “on the grounds of safety”.
In a statement, officials added that they planned on returning it once it had been “made safe to the public” and that they would be contacting the property owner to discuss ways to preserve the piece.
The elusive street artist confirmed they were behind the artwork by sharing a series of photos of the piece on their Instagram account on Tuesday.
Speculation about the post has suggested the Bristol-born artist was referencing violence against women on Valentine’s Day.
Sir Roger, whose constituency includes Margate in Kent, told the PA news agency: “I think it’s an extremely impressive and extremely clever piece of art.
“And I hope and believe that it can and it should be preserved and displayed safely so that as many people as possible can see it.”
“I know there are people who are saying: ‘Oh they should never have done this, they should have left it as it was.’ You can’t,” he said.
“If you’ve got something as potentially dangerous as a chest freezer into which a child could climb (into) and suffocate, you actually can’t responsibly just leave it, you have to do something about it to make it safe.”
Sir Roger said he regularly works with the council on the development of Margate but feels the future of the artwork will be one for the local authority and health and safety experts.
He said: “On the assumption that an agreement can be reached with the property owner and with the artist, which I think is important, and with all these safety considerations taken into account, if there is a way, and I’m sure there is, of displaying this so that as many people as want to try and see it (can), then I’d be very, very happy with that.”
Despite the complexity of the situation, the MP feels the artwork’s appearance has been “very good publicity for the town”.
He explained that since the arrival of the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate in 2011, the town has been establishing itself as a “growing artistic community” and he feels that to have a Banksy as well “in any way, shape, or form, is good news”.
Following the removal of the freezer and other items including a broken garden chair, Thanet District Council confirmed their operatives had dismantled the piece.
In a statement, it said: “We are aware that the graffiti artist known as Banksy has confirmed that the mural that has appeared recently in Margate is his.
“The graffiti is situated on a wall of a privately owned property. A fridge freezer which is believed to have been part of the installation has been removed by council operatives on the grounds of safety as it was on public land.
“The fridge freezer is now in storage and will be returned once it has been made safe to the public. We will be contacting the owner of the property to discuss the options to preserve the artwork for the district.”
The resident of the property where the painting was created, who asked not to be named, told PA that her landlady had tried to send people to guard the artwork but they were unable to do so before the pieces were removed.