Street artists in Cheltenham have set up a vigil to protect a new artwork suspected to have been laid down by Banksy.
Images of wall art resembling the Bristol artist’s style have appeared on the side of a house on the corner of Fairview Road and Hewlett Road over the weekend.
They depict 1950s-style spies, clad in trench coats and trilby hats, carrying listening devices – a statement, no doubt, on the Regency town being the base for GCHQ.
The artwork has attracted a huge amount of attention, going viral on social media platforms, such as twitter.
The house on which it has been left, occupied by mum of five Karren Smith, 48, has seen an increase in visitors, keen to see the latest creation, widely attributed to the famous artist, who rails against the State in his work.
Cheltenham street artist Dice Sixtyseven, has organised a vigil to protect the artwork, for fear it will be defaced.
The organiser of Free Art Friday Cheltenham was concerned that the vandal who sprayed across a piece on the Honeybourne Line underpass by urban street artist My Dog Sighs last week would strike again.
He said he had been in touch with Cheltenham Borough Council, to ask for help in protecting it and anti-graffiti paint would be made available, subject to a few conditions.
He said: “I made sure someone was around to keep an eye on it last night.
“The neighbours and people regularly going past to check it out will hopefully prevent anything happening to it.
“I’m hoping that will be deterrent enough.
“The paintwork by My Dog Sighs was destroyed within a week of it going up.
“It’s a very selfish act to destroy something that had been put up for everyone else to enjoy.
“It would be a massive goal for them to destroy the Banksy as fast as they can.
“It’s going to be a tourist attraction. A guy flew over from France yesterday to take photos of it.
“It puts the town on the map. It all adds to the attraction of coming to see the fantastic art. In Bristol, people come from all over the world to see Banksy’s art.”
Banksy’s real name is believed to be Robin Gunningham, and images of the ‘spy’ artwork appears on Facebook and twitter accounts of that name.
Dice Sixtyseven added: “I sent a message to the Robin Gunningham site to say that we were staying there to protect it and get it preserved over the next couple of days.
“I got a couple of messages back to say ‘good luck with that.’”
Jane Griffiths, director of commissioning for Cheltenham Borough Council said: “The council cannot condone graffiti which is put onto people's property without their permission. However, we recognise that the public do see work by Banksy as significant pieces of public art and it is clear that this piece has been getting a huge amount of favourable attention. It would be a shame if it was removed or damaged.
“As the art work is on private property, it is the for the property owner to decide whether they would want it to be kept – they would need to consider the impact this may have on the residents of the property and the wider community.
“Although we still do not know if it is original work by Banksy, given the public interest, we would be happy to help the owner find a solution which would protect it from tagging or other graffiti.”