March 15, 2023
Art

Banksy Created His Latest Artwork on a Rundown Farmhouse by the British Seaside—Only to Have It Immediately Destroyed

Contractors overseeing the planned demolition say they had no idea the painting was the artist's work.

The latest work by Banksy appears to be no more. The anonymous British street artist posted photographs on Instagram of the silhouette of a young boy with his cat appearing to draw open metal curtains covering a boarded-up window in a dilapidated farmhouse in Herne Bay, a seaside town in Kent, U.K.—and of a construction crew midway though tearing down the structure.

In typical Banksy fashion, the artist shared few details about the work or the circumstances surrounding its destruction, other than its title, Morning Is Broken. Was it a commentary on the Iron Curtain? Was he complicit in its razing—perhaps even the construction worker standing with his back to the camera seemingly overseeing the demolition?

Now, it would appear that the wrecking ball was not another Banksy stunt, but instead the work of the landowner of Blacksole Farm, whose development plans for the site include building 67 homes.

“We had no idea it was a Banksy,” contractor George Caudwell told Kent Online. “It made me feel sick realizing it was a Banksy—we were gutted.”

The painting was reportedly the first part of the home, which dates to 1529, that workers knocked down.

After learning of the work’s provenance, the builders quickly began sifting through the rubble to see if the piece was still intact. Fortunately, one section of plywood showing most of the stenciled figure survived.

“It was like the holy grail coming out of a skip,” local Banksy fan Adam Brooks, who caught a glimpse of the work’s recovery from the garbage, told Kent Online. “I think he must have wanted it to be destroyed because he usually posts his work if he wants people to see it. He has obviously been hanging around for it to be demolished.”

As of press time, representatives for the artist had not responded to inquiries from Artnet News about the nature of the work.

Street art is by nature ephemeral, but due to the high prices that Banksy commands at auction, the loss of one his works is headline-making news. (The artist’s market topped out at $25.4 million with the 2021 sale of Love Is in the Bin, his infamously shredded print, according to the Artnet Price Database.)

Ukrainian police arrested a group of men for stealing a Banksy painting of a woman in a gas mask and a dressing gown from a bombed building in a town near Kyiv in December, one of several works erected by the artist in the war-torn country. The accused later claimed the plan was to sell the work and donate the proceeds to the Ukrainian army, but could still face up to 12 years in jail.

Morning Is Broken follows a recent spate of Banksy works in Kent, most prominently Valentine’s Day Mascara, in which a 1950s-style housewife showing signs of violent domestic abuse appears to have murdered her husband and hidden him in a freezer.

As is the artist’s signature, the work incorporated found materials on the site, using a real freezer in the alleyway where the work was painted to complete the scene. Shortly after the painting’s unveiling on social media, local authorities removed the freezer and other litter that added to the tableaux from the scene. The plan is to move the work to a local theme park.

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