Banksy’s mural ‘Slave Labour’ which depicts a young boy with a sewing machine crafting Union Jack bunting for the Jubilee celebrations has been in the spotlight again this week.
The piece first came into the public eye last May, on the side of the Poundland building in Wood Green (North London). Members of the North London community celebrated the mural and felt touched that Banksy would choose to gift their area with his work. It came as a great shock to the community when the piece was later stolen in February of this year.
It was then discovered a week later in Miami where it was listed on an online site to be auctioned. After much noise from angry residents back in London and Miami alike, the item was removed from the listing. After a few months of questioning, the item has returned to London this week, but not in the way we could have hoped. ‘Slave Labour’ was actioned at the London Film Museum in Covent Garden last Sunday evening. Exact details on the price and the buyer are still to be announced.
The situation has sparked an on ongoing debate between residents and the government, between opinionated journalists and snobby artists with a distaste for graffiti.
Local Haringey Councillor Alan Strickland can be seen on Twitter protesting against the sale, and has been working closely with residents to try and raise as much public awareness as possible. It speaks volumes that the auction house in Miami would choose to listen to public opinion, yet here in the UK, where the piece originated from, all public opinion was ignored.
Whatever your views are, you can’t deny that this is one of Banksy’s strongest pieces yet. It is a political work, with a very strong anti-capitalist message and is an important contribution to public art, especially at this moment in time.
Join the debate! Feel free to leave your comments below and let us know where you stand. Should Banksy come forward to claim his work back? Who is the true owner of the mural? Does it paint a picture of Britain that you agree with? Would you like to see it back on the streets? Let us know.