A building adorned with a £1 million Banksy mural has been demolished, sparking concerns about the artwork's fate.
The demolition is part of a £25 million regeneration project to establish a cultural, educational and business start-up centre in Dover in southern England, replacing a car park and the Funky Monkey nightclub.
The project, dubbed the Dover Beacon, promises to uplift Dover's aspirations and attract creative talents.
Dover District Council leader Kevin Mills said that parts of the mural, mysteriously whitewashed in 2019, have been preserved.
The man and yellow stars remain intact, but the blue background was not salvageable.
It is unclear if the artwork can ever be properly saved.
In a statement to The National, a Dover District Council spokesman said that “prior to authorising the demolition, and having taken professional conservation advice, DDC determined that the Banksy could not be viably conserved without considerable costs to local taxpayers, even if it were technically possible”.
Mr Mills emphasised that the council did not deface the mural and the origin of the overpainting remain unknown.
"Engagement with politics and capturing the public imagination is key to the cultural importance of Banksy," Lead Art Historian at Fine Art Restoration Company Danielle Burke told The National.
"Across the history of art, power, exclusivity, and wealth has dominated the art market, Banksy flips this by making his work publicly accessible from the moment of composition.
This has made his art popular with millions worldwide, no longer hidden in galleries and private homes."
DDS Demolition, responsible for the building's deconstruction, is trying to conserve the artwork.
The council spokesman said that “there is no certainty that this will be successful given the fact that the artwork was painted over and the poor state of the render”.
"One of the challenges with Banksy murals is their location, they are often open to pollutants and vandalism," Ms Burke said.
"Due to the political nature of Banksy's work, it is believed that he sometimes intends the lack of permanence in his work. In fact, the loss or damage of a mural is part of the artwork itself.
"Although the art is partially destroyed, this forms part of the story and the ongoing legacy. If we were to restore a partially destroyed Banksy mural, we would not recreate any area of significant loss – we would treat this as being part of the artwork itself."
Digital photographs of the mural exist, raising the possibility of duplication. However, the council emphasised that they sought to avoid burdening taxpayers with potentially high conservation costs.
The timeline for this process is uncertain owing to the detailed conservation that will be required.
The demolition has caused concern for Banksy fans.
Sarah Harmer said on Facebook: "When they announced [the project] they stated they were using a specialist company from Spain who were going to scan the Banksy digitally so it can be resurrected in some form."
Paul McMullan said "Bye bye Dover Banksy ... many of the good things about Dover, the 15th-century cottages, the grand hotels on the seafront, the sports centre you could walk to, all demolished."2023-11-29T14:04:29Z dg43tfdfdgfd