Council returns freezer to Banksy Valentine’s Day Mascara artwork

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A Banksy artwork in Margate which was dismantled by the local council “on the grounds of safety” has had a piece returned.

The mural, titled Valentine’s Day Mascara, had incorporated a real-life chest freezer, a broken garden chair, a blue crate and an empty beer bottle, which were all removed from the site on Tuesday.

However, officials confirmed on Wednesday that it had returned the freezer after making it safe for the public, adding it was in contact with the property owner to discuss ways to preserve the piece.

A spokesperson from Thanet District Council said: “The freezer which council operatives removed from the Banksy installation in Margate has now been made safe. It has been returned to its original position at the site of the artwork today.

New Banksy artworks
People wearing high-vis workwear in Margate removing a chest freezer which formed part of new artwork by street artist Banksy (@danbamhiggins/PA)

“Banksy raises the important issue of domestic abuse in this artwork. We are in touch with the owner of the property to understand their intentions around the preservation of the piece and to secure the best possible outcome for the local community and victims of domestic abuse.”

The original piece appeared to have a theme of domestic abuse and fighting violence against women.

It depicted a 1950s housewife wearing a blue pinny and yellow washing-up gloves with a swollen eye and a missing tooth seemingly shoving her male partner into a chest freezer.

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.

Prior to the council returning the freezer, North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale called the council’s decision to dismantle the artwork “heavy-handed”.

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Sir Roger Gale (Lewis Whyld/PA)

“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.”

New Banksy artworks
Thanet District Council confirmed it had removed the real-life chest freezer incorporated into the wall painting ‘on the grounds of safety’ (@danbamhiggins/PA)

“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”.

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.

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