Bristol’s sneezing Banksy to go under the hammer

Bristolian locals were blown away in December 2020 when a Banksy mural of a sneezing woman appeared on a semidetached house in Totterdown. Now they have bid the elderly woman and her flying false teeth a fond farewell as it was announced the artwork is set to be auctioned online.

Onlookers gathered to watch as a crane removed the piece from the side of the house on Vale Street on Friday 12 March. Owner of the crane operator, Mark Steventon-Smith, said it had been a “tough job” removing the artwork. According to one report, the team even enlisted the help of a restorer from Italy who specialises in removing frescos to complete the job.

Called ‘Aachoo!!’, the work depicts a woman clutching her handkerchief as she is overcome by an almighty sneeze. The force of the sneeze is so great it propels her false teeth into the air while the woman’s handbag and walking stick tumble to the floor.

Vale Street is one of the steepest streets in the UK and when viewed with the road level, it appeared as though the woman’s sneeze blew the houses over.

Zwolle-based auctioneers Hessink’s confirmed they will be offering ‘Aachoo!!’ for sale in the coming weeks. John Brandler, owner of Brandler Galleries in Brentwood, had advised the owner of the Banksy to give the work to the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery or the Mayor of Bristol but the Museum received no such offer.

I personally think it should stay”, Brandler told BristolLive journalists, adding its “very, very site-specific” and connected to Bristol, Banksy’s hometown.

Several Bristolians share Brandler’s sentiment. One 34-year-old Vale Street resident said it was “so sad, really gutting” to see the sneezing woman being taken away. “It was a very positive thing to have happened at a time when all the art galleries were closed, so I think it definitely saddens people in the street”, she lamented.

Boodle Hatfield previously acted to recover another Banksy mural removed from its original site, which recently returned to public display in Folkestone.

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