Banksy’s popular hula-hooping artwork in Nottingham has been removed and sold for “six figures” to a collector from Essex. Disappointed residents are now circulating a petition to have the local attraction returned to the city.
It appeared on the side of a beauty salon in October 2020 and immediately attracted crowds. Dubbed the ‘Hula-Hooping Girl’, Banksy’s site-specific work depicts a child playing with a bicycle tyre next to a bicycle attached to a nearby signpost that is missing its rear wheel. The work references Nottingham’s historic bicycle manufacturing firms.
“It was great for the city. It arrived in the midst of Covid when we were all going through a really terrible time, and there was just this brilliant moment of enjoyment, and joy and delight,” explained Simon Bristow of the city’s rejuvenation board ‘The Nottingham Project’.
But in the early hours of 17th February 2021, specialist removers were seen “drilling into the wall” and carrying the work away. The owner of the building, who wishes to remain anonymous, had sold the street art to Brandler Galleries in Brentwood where it will be preserved and displayed.
According to the building’s owner, “discussions with a number of local organisations, charities and national bodies” had broken down because “none were able to commit to taking ownership of the art”. Sums raised by the sale will be donated privately.
Gallery owner John Brandler addressed the backlash from angered residents, stating “if you put Perspex over a picture the moisture gets into the brick wall and can’t escape – the wall needs to breathe. If I hadn’t bought it and removed it, in two years’ time there wouldn’t have been a Banksy there at all.”
A petition on Change.org is now garnering support to “bring the Banksy back to Nottingham”. The founder of the petition, Mike Horseman, pleaded “please help me and help this city restore what I believe is our right to see and enjoy this artwork.” Meanwhile a cryptic stencilled message has mysteriously materialised on the piece of wood covering the space where Banksy’s work once was. The note reads: “More people visited the Mona Lisa after it had been stolen than when it was there.”
In November 2020 a similar situation occurred when a Banksy was returned to Folkestone following a successful legal case, several public protests and social media outrage. ‘Art Buff’ had been cut out of an arcade wall without the owner’s permission by Dreamland Leisure Limited who were leasing the property. After numerous failed attempts to sell ‘Art Buff’, the arts charity Creative Folkestone began legal proceedings against Dreamland, instructing Boodle Hatfield’s specialist art law team, and eventually secured the return of the painting.