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Angry town residents call for removed Banksy mural to be reinstated

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A security guard stands next to a mural called Art Buff created by street artist Banksy which appeared in Folkestone

A security guard stands next to a mural called Art Buff created by street artist Banksy which appeared in Folkestone

A security guard stands next to a mural called Art Buff created by street artist Banksy which appeared in Folkestone

The removal of a Banksy mural which appeared on the wall of an amusement arcade just over a month ago has caused upset in a seaside town.

Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, also appealed for the piece, called Art Buff, to be reinstated at Payers Park in Folkestone, Kent, after it removed over the weekend.

Art lovers descended on the town when the stencil-style artwork, which depicts an older woman staring at an empty plinth while wearing headphones with her hands clasped behind her back, appeared at the end of September.

Clear plastic sheeting was placed over the piece to protect it, but just two weeks later council workers were called to clean the mural after a spray-painted penis was added to the plinth image.

Shepway District Council, which had been helping to ensure the mural remained undamaged, said it was "disappointed" to hear that Art Buff had been removed by the owners "who are no longer able to maintain it".

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Banksy's Flower Girl stencil has fetched £128,200 at a Beverly Hills auction. (AP /Reed Saxon)

Banksy's Flower Girl stencil has fetched £128,200 at a Beverly Hills auction. (AP /Reed Saxon)

Banksy's Flower Girl stencil has fetched £128,200 at a Beverly Hills auction. (AP /Reed Saxon)

Mr Collins, also appealed to the Godden family, who own the arcade, to save the Banksy piece for Folkestone.

He said: "I was very disturbed to hear that the Banksy artwork on the wall of Palace Amusements in Folkestone was removed at the request of the Godden family who own the building.

"It is their intention that the artwork should be sold at private auction.

"The Godden family have raised concerns about the maintenance of the Banksy mural, and state that this is the reason why it has been removed.

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"It would have been much better if they had discussed this with people in the town before acting as they have.

"I have written to Jeremy Godden asking if we can meet to discuss an alternative solution that would allow the Banksy artwork to remain on public display in Folkestone, either at the same or a different location."

The artwork is expected to be auctioned off by the Bankrobber Gallery in London and a picture of the mural, before the crude graffiti was removed, is displayed on the homepage of its website.

Art dealer Robin Barton told Academy FM, Folkestone's community radio station, that any proceeds of an auction would be given to a cancer charity set up in memory of Mr Godden's late father, Jimmy Godden.

Kent Police also confirmed that they had been called to Payers Park on Saturday after people objecting to the artwork's removal turned up to make their views known.

Fans of the mural also left messages on the Bankrobber Gallery's Facebook page voicing their disappointment.

A force spokesman said: "Police attended the artwork in Folkestone to prevent any breach of the peace while work was carried out in the area. No arrests were made."

Pictures of the wall at Payers Park appeared on the Banksy website before and after the artwork appeared, claiming the image was part of the Folkestone Triennial.

The triennial, which ended yesterday, was a two-month long showcase of art in the resort, which has attracted the likes of Yoko Ono, widow of the late Beatle John Lennon.

The event gained headlines at this year's launch when Berlin-based artist Michael Sailstorfer sparked a stampede when he hid 30 bars of 24-carat gold, worth £10,000, on Folkestone beach.


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