“The stress has been lifted off me,” says the owner of a garage in Port Talbot who has sold the Banksy that appeared there in December 2018.
Ian Lewis discovered the mural of a small child catching falling ash on his tongue on the side of his garage just before Christmas. Street artist Banksy confirmed he was behind the work, which satirises the dust problem created by local steelworks via a video on his Instagram account. Lewis had grown weary of the thousands of Banksy enthusiasts who made daily pilgrimages to the site to view the piece, sometimes in the middle of the night.
The Tata Steel steelworks employee received several offers of help to protect and conserve the work including from the Welsh government and local actor Michael Sheen. “There were lots of offers… There were art collectors, dealers, people who wanted to take it away basically“, Lewis told the BBC. He finally settled on selling the work privately to Essex-based gallery owner, John Brandler for an undisclosed “six-figure sum”. Brandler told reporters that the work would remain in Port Talbot for a minimum of two to three years for the public to view and enjoy.
“Let’s take it and move it into the middle of the town where the public can see it without anybody stopping them“, Brandler said. The gallery owner was originally looking to purchase the work for a client but ended up buying it for himself sight unseen. Brandler also praised Lewis for turning down more lucrative offers in an effort to ensure the piece would remain in Port Talbot.
“I think an awful lot of people would have taken the money and run, but he wasn’t selfish and he deserves recognition for that“.