Three early works by the street artist and self-styled urban activist Banksy are to be rescued, 11 years after they were accidentally daubed with grey emulsion paint.
In a rare case of the graffiti being considered more desirable than the wall, a five-month project to restore the murals began yesterday at Glasgow’s Arches club.
They were painted when the elusive and subversive artist visited the city in 2001. They depict the Mona Lisa surrounded by a picture frame and, on her left, a gun-toting monkey sporting a tutu. Between the pieces are the words: “Every time I hear the word culture, I release the safety on my 9mm.”
But they were partly defaced in 2007, and when the club went into administration, it was feared they would be lost.
The administrators, who took control of the venue three years ago, dashed hopes of a sale, saying it could not be determined whether the works were of value or if anyone would want them.
But yesterday, the London-based Fine Art Restoration Company stepped in to help to preserve them.
Scott Taggart, general manager of Argyle Street Arches, said: “We are delighted to be saving these rare artworks for the nation. We’re looking forward to being able to have them on permanent and public display for the people of Glasgow, and Scotland, once again.”
Chris Bull, technical director at the restoration company, added: “We’re bringing three hidden Banksy pieces back to life.”
A public appeal for donations has been launched to support the work.
The Arches club fell into financial difficulty when a midnight curfew imposed by Glasgow City Council left it £500,000 in debt. The action was taken following the death of a 17-year-old girl, in 2014.