Michael Sheen: Banksy a missed opportunity for Port Talbot
Michael Sheen has expressed his disappointment at the Banksy artwork in Port Talbot leaving the town.
The actor, who initially paid for security for the artwork out of his own pocket when it first appeared on the side of a garage ion the town back in December 2018, labelled the moving of the artwork ‘uninspiring’.
While he said there were positives to take from the artwork’s three year tenure in the town, he added there was little vision and ambition to keep it.
“On the positive side, one of the great things to see is how much it has been a catalyst for all kinds of things,” he told BBC Wales Live.
“Everyone was incredibly excited about the fact that Banksy had chosen to do a piece in the town. It’s been a catalyst for creativity from people within the town as well. You know, there’s been poetry and songs and other artworks being done. And that’s been fantastic.
“On the negative side, I suppose it’s in terms of the kind of official talk of what was going to happen, very little of that has really materialised and what has been done, I think it’s been a little bit uninspiring.
“When I’ve gone down to try and look at it, it is quite difficult to see,” he said of the artwork, which was dismantled brick by brick, and then moved to a new location in Ty’r Orsaf, a development of commercial units in the town centre where people could view it behind a protective screen.
“I suppose in some ways it’s followed a pattern where there’s something of great potential in the town, a lot of great ideas, but the the ambition and the vision doesn’t really materialise and the thing of real value tends to get extracted from the country and goes off into England. It’s an old story isn’t it.”
Sheen’s comments come as the Banksy artwork looks set to leave the town on Tuesday, February 8.
Meanwhile a new mural on the site of the original Banksy has been revealed in Port Talbot.
The mural titled ‘Speedings Greetings’ is situated on the same garage where Banksy’s original artwork ‘Season’s Greetings’ appeared in December 2018.
As the Banksy artwork gets ready to leave the town after more than three years, local artist Steve Jenkins has created brand new artwork in the same spot that the famous artist’s work appeared.
The Banksy original has sparked street art boom in the town, which includes the creation of the Port Talbot ArtWalk – a tour of all the local street art works.
Like the original Banksy, Steve’s work carries an environmental message.
“The new piece came about by me hearing that the Banksy piece was due to leave Port Talbot, and the guys from the artwalk project got in touch to see if I could think of anything that could replace it when it goes from the town,” he told Neath Port Talbot Online.
“Although nothing will replace it, I suppose adding more art to some of Port Talbot’s plain walls will cheer the town up and the place has become a hive for street art in the last three years since Banksy painted Seasons Greetings.
“I had a think about the whole corner idea that Banksy had used and thought it might be nice if the design made use of that feature again.
“I thought of taking a trip to Taibach to see if there was anything now painted on the original garage, and there wasn’t.
“With the help of a local friend and councillor, Nigel Hunt. I tracked down the owner of the garage and set about asking him if he would give me permission to do another painting on the famous wall. I shared my idea with him and was delighted when he said yes, you can go for it.”
Steve added: “The message behind this is poking a bit of fun at the pollution signs on the motorway and us having to do 50mph to combat it. I think the majority of people get wound up at peak travelling times when this slow section makes miles of tailbacks.
“The message behind the Banksy art was so strong I wanted the wall to have a similar meaning but to come at it from a different angle. Hope people like it and it brings some smiles.”
When the Banksy finally leaves Port Talbot it well end an eventful story that created global interest and put the Welsh town on the street art map.
The artwork which was bought by Banksy collector John Brandler for a six figure sum will now be moved 270 miles to a new home in Ipswich.
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