TfL cleans Banksy coronavirus artwork off inside of Tube carriage

14 July 2020, 16:28

Banksy targets London Underground with Coronavirus inspired art

By Maddie Goodfellow

Street artist Banksy covered the inside of a London Underground carriage with coronavirus inspired art but it was cleaned off by TfL for breaching its anti-graffiti policy.

The enigmatic artist posted a video to his Instagram showing someone spraying a tube train and with his familiar rats across the walls and doors.

The rats are depicted sneezing all over the inside of the carriages.

Green paint is splattered across the windows in train carriages to reflect the expulsion of droplets in the air from coughing.

The video, entitled 'If you don't mask you don't get', shows an artist carrying out the work. It is believed to be Banksy himself although his identity is hidden behind a mask and PPE suit.

It begins with a laptop playing footage showing the London Underground being deep cleaned in May.

Banksy, wearing a white boiler suit, mask, goggles, blue gloves and an orange hi-viz jacket with the message "stay safe" printed on it, is then seen posing as a Transport for London worker.

The title seems to be in reference to the government's announcement on Tuesday that it will be mandatory to wear a face covering in shops - with a £100 fine for anyone who doesn't comply from July 24.

Banksy appears to warn anyone failing to heed health experts' advice in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

The artist also carries a paint sprayer and stencils onto the Circle Line train before starting his creation.

At one point, he is approached by a fellow passenger and waves them away from the area where he sprayed his graffiti.

Banksy has been filmed spray painting the tube
Banksy has been filmed spray painting the tube. Picture: Instagram
The artist is shown wearing PPE and a mask
The artist is shown wearing PPE and a mask. Picture: Instagram

The video ends with a message sprayed on the platform outside the train, which reads with a second message on closing doors in the foreground.

When put together, the two lines read: "I get lockdown, but I get up again", as the video plays the Chumbawumba hit Tubthumping.

In a statement, TfL said: “We appreciate the sentiment of encouraging people to wear face coverings, which the vast majority of customers on our transport network are doing.

"In this particular case, the work was removed some days ago due to our strict anti-graffiti policy.

"We’d like to offer Banksy the chance to do a new version of his message for our customers in a suitable location.”

The artwork features Banksy's familiar rats
The artwork features Banksy's familiar rats. Picture: Instagram
The rats are carrying coronavirus themed items, such as hand sanitiser
The rats are carrying coronavirus themed items, such as hand sanitiser. Picture: Instagram

It is the elusive street artist's first public outing since he suggested what should be done with the toppled Colston statue in Bristol.

Rather than memorialising the slave trader himself, Banksy said Bristol should memorialise the moment his statue was torn down.

"We drag him out the water, put him back on the plinth, tie cable round his neck and commission some life size bronze statues of protestors in the act of pulling him down," Banksy wrote on Instagram.

"Everyone happy. A famous day commemorated."

The monument, which once sat in central Bristol to mark Colston's philanthropic efforts, was pulled down by Black Lives Matter demonstrators who highlighted his controversial history within the slave trade.

It was disposed of in Bristol's harbour and was later recovered to be displayed in a Bristol museum at a later date.