Elusive street artist Banksy confirmed on his Instagram account that he is responsible for a mysterious piece of artwork that appeared in South Wales in Tuesday’s early hours.
Residents of the Taibach area of Port Talbot awoke to find graffiti in Banksy’s distinctive style on two walls of a garage owned by a local steelworker
The art, which appears to pay homage to the town’s industrial past, depicts a child playing in what looks like snow. But viewed from another angle this appears to be embers and smoke from a skip fire.
Properties and cars were covered with black dust from the town’s steelworks in July, which has been suggested as a potential inspiration for the work.
Neath Port Talbot councilor Scott Bamsey told CNN that he applauds the work.
“I have been to visit the piece and although I am no graffiti expert it certainly looks the real deal and there’s a high possibility it’s a genuine Banksy piece,” he said, before it was confirmed.
“Regardless of authenticity it at the very least highlights the beauty of graffiti art and excitement that quality work generates,” he added.
Councilor Steffan ap Dafydd also told CNN that the council welcomes any form of public art, but acknowledged the environmental and pollution concerns in the area.
He noted that the Welsh government is attempting to improve the M4 motorway, which is one cause of pollution in the area, while Tata, a steel company which owns the works in the town, is investing heavily to improve environmental conditions.
“Tata is mitigating against the pollution issue with heavy investment over the next 3 years, including £50 million ($63 million) on upgrading Blast Furnace 5 this year,” he said.
Gareth Thomas, a university lecturer at Cardiff University, wrote on Twitter that the image “fits perfectly with Port Talbot” as the “steel works town is frequently covered in ash.”
Rachel Honey-Jones, who lives in The Mumbles on the other side of Swansea Bay, described the graffiti as an “incredible addition to Port Talbot” and noted that it held a strong political message.
“Everything about it is political messaging, the way the boy has been drawn, the positioning near the steelworks, the fact it was done just after the tolls went down,” she told the UK Press Association, referring to the government’s decision to halt tolls on the Severn Bridge between England and Wales.
A Neath Port Talbot council spokesperson told CNN in a statement that they are sending officers to liaise with the property owner in order to assist in protecting the artwork but noted that the graffiti is on private property.