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Monday, 10 June 2013
Liverpool Banksy Destroyed-You Dirty Rat.......Or Was It A Cat?.
Six weeks ago, Ascot Properties, who bought the rotting Grade II-listed building at the start of 2011, announced that if the worst came to the worst and the rat had to come down during renovations, they would arrange for local artists to repaint it on to new rendering.
Their comments came in the wake of a bogus internet yarn claiming the derelict building was to see new life a Costa Coffee. This, in itself, was enough to send the righteous frothing over their lattes. But it was all a storm in a cafetiere and Costa were bemused.
The case of the disappearing rat
Three weeks later, the rat, which appeared during the 2004 Liverpool Biennial, vanished altogether and now only bare brick can be seen.
Ascot announced that the head had been removed by specialist restorers and put into storage. But what it didn't say is if the artwork, with an estimated value of £1m, would ever be back.
Ascot spokesman Stuart Howard said then: “We want to allay any fears that we have just thrown it out. We have been working closely with the city council and have drafted in a specialist restoration team.
“The artwork was in a fairly bad condition, most of the painting which was on wooden panels covering the buildings windows had fallen off as the wood had rotted.
“But we have been assured that it can be restored to its original condition and the pieces have been numbered and taken away to secure storage.”
Today art dealer and heritage campaigner Wayne Colquhoun said Ascot's explanation didn’t wash with him - while the council said it was in the dark as to where the rat's remains might be.
“First of all, the most important part of it is the head - and that was painted on to stucco. This could never be restored to its original condition. They would need rather a lot of Araldite to glue that back together.
Cat? Rat? Machine gun? Lipstick? Marker pen? All there anyway in the Big Dig
“As for retracing it, this artwork – by its very nature – can never be replicated. You can never sum up the spirit of an original.
“The same effect of an artist waiting to be arrested in the dead of night is what gives graffiti art its spirit.
“Destroying an original Banksy to put in its place a copy is beyond a joke. It would be a repro.”
He added: “The boards below may have been saved but will be badly rotted as they were not marine ply and the glue of plywood disintegrates. They claim they have put the pieces into numbered storage but then what? A piece of board with the tail on could fetch a fortune at auction in the States.
“It is gone and a repro is never going to recapture it.” Wayne Colquhoun: 'You can never sum up the spirit of an original'A Liverpool City Council spokesman told Confidential that the Banksy's fate was down to the premises' owners. The buiding was listed in 2004, shortly before the graffiti appeared.
"The council's involvement in this is that we provided the owners of the building - Ascot property group - with a £307,000 grant under something called the Townscape Heritage Initiative, which was aimed at bringing historical buildings back into use.”
He added: "It's really up to the owners of the property to decide how they are going to deal with the Banksy."
Planning consent for retail and flatsAscot have planning permission to turn the pub – which they acquired for an undisclosed sum – into ground floor retail with apartments above.
Colquhoun said: “The property had been left to decay and it was claimed it was to be preserved, after a repairs notice was served on the property's former owners, but Liverpool is a city that is incapable of preserving anything of note these days, be it old or new.
“I smell a rat, aided and abetted by Liverpool City Council who need to approve repairs on a listed building, of which this is one, before they are carried out.
“It seems hard to believe that you would do this without consultation to the masses. What is the point of having a planning process?”
“This was a listed building with a famous artwork. You couldn't make it up.”
The city spokesman said that while it does remains interested in the fate of the Banksy, regulations state that the council only has to be satisfied that the work the developers are doing will protect the building itself, in line with its listing.
Nobody from Ascot was available for comment either by phone today or last Friday, when Liverpool Confidential visited their Waterloo offices.
Liverpool Confidential have their fingers on the pulse once again always worth a read. http://www.liverpoolconfidential.co.uk/