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Spybooth by Banksy

"Police called to investigate art fans protecting Cheltenham Spybooth 'Banksy'"

 

from Gloucestershire Echo May 12, 2014.

 

People trying to preserve the Cheltenham 'Banksy' had a brush with the law after concerned residents called the police on them.

In a twist of irony which would no doubt amuse Bristol-based Banksy, street artists from Cheltenham were painting the 'spybooth mural' with clear anti-graffiti paint, when the boys in blue turned up.

The mural, on the side of the house in Fairview Road, which depicts 1950s-style spies, clad in trench coats and trilby hats, sprang up over a weekend last month.

Although the celebrated artist is yet to confirm whether he is responsible for its creation.

It has been the focus of international attention, with visitors flying from as far afield as France and Canada.

It was also the backdrop for the first crop of wedding photos, at the union of Paul and Pip Organ, from Bishop's Cleeve.

The community sprang into action when a man tried to deface the work with emulsion paint, barely a week after it first appeared in the town.

It was only after quick-thinking of locals that the paint was washed off and the artwork saved.

Since then the Spybooth 'Banksy' has been under the watchful gaze of its community members, who had become increasingly concerned a vandal could strike at any moment.

Dice Sixtyseven, Cheltenham's own anonymous street artist, and friend Phil Richards, from Whaddon were painting the artwork on Wednesday evening when they had their collars felt.

Dice Sixtyseven, the organiser of Free Art Friday Cheltenham, said: "We took it upon ourselves to do something about preserving it.

"We put two coats on the 'Banksy' and and went down to put the third and final coat on it, when this big 'heavy' came out of the pub and started asking what we were doing.

"Fortunately Phil knows him, so we were OK.

"Then we started painting and a girl came up to us. She must only have been about 23, but she challenged us.

"She was driving past and parked up her car and came over to ask what we thought we were doing.

"Then two minutes later the police turned up, with sirens going.

"Once we explained to the officer what we were doing, he let us carry on.

Dice Sixtyseven said it was encouraging how quickly people leapt to the mural's defence.

He said: "It's good how much people have taken it to their hearts.

"Residents were quite happy to jump in when they saw it being painted.

"The anti-graffiti paint will hopefully preserve it for good.

"Banksy would love it that we've used ant-graffiti paint to save a piece of graffiti and that police had been called, for us protecting what is really an example of criminal damage."

  

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Taken on May 14, 2014