Banksy recently revealed a brand new work inspired by COVID-19 on his Instagram, in a video that shows the artist spray painting a London subway car. Hours after Banksy posted a video of himself disguised as a cleaner tagging the London Underground, the COVID-19 piece has been removed by the Transport for London, scrubbing one of Banksy’s best works in some time. The work consisted of several stenciled rats and face masks, meant to encourage commuters to mask up to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
Highlights of the new work included a sneezing rat expelling a burst of blue paint, and several different stencils of rats interacting with the facemasks. Banksy also tagged the words “I get lockdown” and “but I get up again” in the station and on the train doors, a reference to “TubThumping” by the English rock band Chumbawamba.
CNN reports that the TFL removed the piece because it was in violation of their “strict anti-graffiti policy” but expressed that they appreciate the ever-elusive artist’s sentiment and would “offer Banksy the chance to do a new version of his message for our customers in a suitable location,” which sounds like the most un-Banksy thing ever.
It’s a shame, though not at all surprising, that Banksy’s newest piece had to be removed but when it existed it was definitely the coolest pro-mask statement we’ve seen from any artist to date.