PAVAN Amara’s piece on Camden Council ordering a property owner in Camden Town to take down his protective perspex screen over the Banksy on his wall brings back memories of the Town Hall’s own excitement when the artist left one of his rats on the side of its offices in King’s Cross. You can see it where the annexe offices create an arch near the Camden Centre.
The council itself was worried about the artwork being damaged and put their own screen over the picture of a rat holding up a placard with an exclamation mark written on it. When we FOI’d the emails behind this decision, we found then deputy leader of the council Lib Dem Janet Grauberg fretting: “Since hearing about the Banksy on the Town Hall I have seen several books about his work. While I understand the issues about graffiti, it is quite clear this is something different and we would be in a lot of trouble if we just got rid of it.”
Also part of the email chain, senior council man Stuart Dilley wrote that cleaning works of the building could cause trouble: “I will ensure the ‘Banksy’ is protected during the works or until a decision is confirmed. We will need to be careful regarding publicity as obviously if the ‘art’ is worth something this would increase the danger of theft.”
He favoured fitting a protective cover, adding: “If this option is accepted then it would also deliver the benefit of continuing to have the art on public display… I have also spoken to our Insurance Section to see if our brokers can offer cover against damage/vandal ism but they have advised that this is not possible.”
What a fuss. I hope you’re proud of yourself, Mr Banksy.