banksy phone booth

Even if you have never taken an interest in art it is still likely that you will have seen an example of, or heard about, Banksy’s street art stylings. Though here at East End Tours we are familiar with a fair few examples of his work in the capital, we still take an interest in his antics in other parts of the country.

Back in April, a piece of artwork appeared in Cheltenham which depicted three suspicious looking characters in overcoats and sunglasses eavesdropping on a telephone booth; what’s more, the mural was located a mere 3 miles from the government listening post, GCHQ.

Speaking to the BBC at the time the artwork appeared, Vince John, a gallery owner in Bristol said he was “70% to 80%” certain of its authenticity. “It’s certainly in his style and has the supporting cast of characters that you’d expect from one of his pieces,” he commented. “It’s taking a swipe at GCHQ and commenting on the establishment which is something that he does very well.”

Banksy eventually claimed the piece as his own in an FAQ section on his website. Under the question, “Did you paint the spies in Cheltenham?” the artists reply is simply, “Yes.”

However, with Banksy artworks now worth millions, Cheltenham is at risk of losing this art work to unscrupulous art dealers. The owners of the building, which plays host to the three spies, are rumoured to be under pressure from an American exhibition owner who wished to purchase the artwork for a sizeable 7 figure sum.

In no time at all, scaffolding had been erected around the site and it seemed that the street art would be removed. But then, the local council stepped in and put a stop to the work for a period of 28 days, as it emerged that the removal work was being carried out without obtaining proper consent from the authorities; this was complicated further by the fact that the artwork is on a grade II listed building.

According to The Guardian, Mark Nelson, the council’s built environment enforcement manager, said: “The temporary stop notice has been served because the council considers that works have taken place, without obtaining consent. It is worth clarifying that whilst the council is supportive of the public’s desire to keep the artwork on this property, the temporary stop notice has been issued to protect the integrity of this listed building.”

If you want to see more of Banksy’s artworks or have an interest in street art and want to see some incredible examples in their natural habitat, then join us on one of our street art London tours! With East End Tours you will see a side of London rarely seen. Full details are available online so book your place today!