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Residents hold overnight vigil outside scaffolding around Banksy in Cheltenham

By Michael_Yong  |  Posted: June 26, 2014

  • The white van parked by the scaffolding at the Banksy

Comments (25)

Residents and business owners in Fairview are planning to keep “a constant eye” on the Banksy artwork in Cheltenham, after scaffolding was erected on site yesterday.

Specialist scaffolding firm, Q Scaffolding, has put up plywood boardings and scaffolds around the spies mural, prompting fears the art piece could be removed.

But contractors working for the company denied they were there for the painting, insisting instead it was put up to allow the house owner to re-render the property.

Michael Tonge, who lives yards away from the painting, has been at the site for the last 12 hours on an overnight vigil.

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The broadcast engineer said: “There has been no contractors or builders overnight or this morning.

“I thought they might turn up at sunrise but they are not here at the moment.

“The side of the house is covered in hoardings at the moment, but no one outside the building. There were a few people working inside the house.

“I have been nipping back and forth from the house, getting coffee and sandwiches.

“Everyone around here is keeping an eye on it, 24 hours a day.”

The scaffolding was put up in the afternoon, but Q Scaffolding was unavailable for comment.

Its website shows videos of its contractors removing the artist’s work, which is then taken to specialist galleries and sold.

Similar videos also appear on YouTube.

The spy booth mural appeared on the Grade II-listed property in Hewlett Road overnight in April this year.

It depicts 1950s-style spooks in trilbys and trenchcoats, said to be a nod to Cheltenham being the home of Government listening post GCHQ.

The attraction drew thousands of people to the site, with some coming from as far as Canada. Bristol-based Banksy confirmed the painting was done by him in a simple FAQ on his website.

Neighbours have spent weeks protecting the iconic artwork, which was subject to a vandalism attack soon after it was painted.

And now, they are determined to keep it in the community.

Michael said: “It is very much a part of the environment and community now and has helped the local business. It’s an important, interesting and amazing piece of art and it belongs to all of us.

“When it first happened, I came out with my camera to take a few pictures and I couldn’t get to the front of it because of the number of people there. It has been like that one and off after the first few weeks.

“The pub, café and shops still get people coming in after travelling to see the work.

“I have been here all night and people have come up to ask what was going on. I would say 95 per cent of them were disgusted when I told them what was happening. People want it to stay here.”

A builder working on the project, who asked not to be named, said: “People don’t need to worry.

“I can understand the interest because people don’t want to see the Banksy go.

“But I can assure them, we are just fixing the rendering to make it safer and the art will be preserved.”

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  • InspectorGade  |  June 26 2014, 6:14PM

    The last Banksy that was sold went for £300,000. Who, in the same position as the building owner, wouldn't consider the same?

    |   1
  • ricasso  |  June 26 2014, 4:07PM

    I think your right Phil! finding a phone box would be the least of your problems!

    |   1
  • LeeroyGibbano  |  June 26 2014, 3:37PM

    I feel that Banksy should consider using the Transit as a canvas for his next piece, pershaps something to recognise that struggle mandem in the hood have in pursuit of art.

    |   4
  • RobertJordan  |  June 26 2014, 3:23PM

    Looks like the painting has been sold by the building owners, and will be transported to a gallery in London: http://tinyurl.com/pd9e46b

    |   1
  • HuckiePhil  |  June 26 2014, 3:11PM

    Ricasso - I think if you're holding a large Banksy which you've paid a fortune to obtain, you can afford an old phone box!

    |   1
  • ricasso  |  June 26 2014, 2:41PM

    Presumably whoever bought the painting would also need to buy a scabby old phone box as well! its gonna look a bit silly otherwise ;))

    |   3
  • HuckiePhil  |  June 26 2014, 2:29PM

    Tim - they put an RSJ above and vertical supports, then remove the wall below as a whole entity and make good the surface.

  • TIMONLINE2010  |  June 26 2014, 2:11PM

    How would one remove intact a painting fom a wall? Surely repairing render removes removing it and re-rendering?!

  • wsjd2003  |  June 26 2014, 1:42PM

    Paint over it and bring Mr Blobby back :-)

    |   4
  • TigerBoris  |  June 26 2014, 1:41PM

    Sorry Phil! It is a very interesting website though, have long thought that Banksy was more of a collective rather than one person

    |   2