The dealer who paid a six-figure sum for Season’s Greetings, a mural painted by Banksy on a garage in Port Talbot, South Wales, says he is looking for a new location to show the work. Late last year, John Brandler bought the Banksy image from Ian Lewis, a steelworker who owns the garage. Season's Greetings depicts a child enjoying a snow shower which, from another angle, is revealed as a cascade of ash, alluding possibly to the poor air quality in the area due to local steelworks.
Earlier this year, the Welsh government funded the transfer of the mural to the former police station in the town centre where the work was on public view for three days last week between 11am and 3pm. But plans to open an urban art centre in the South Wales town, with the Banksy image as the centrepiece, appear to have stalled.
Brandler tells The Art Newspaper: "I gave my word to Ian [Lewis] the vendor that it would stay in Port Talbot for two years, so it will. However, Port Talbot has shown that they don’t want people really to see it.... I am already looking for a town that wants 150,000 or more visitors a year coming to look at street art, [works by] Banksy etc.”
He adds: “I have not heard anything from anyone at the council about 'ideas for a permanent display' [of the mural]... if they don’t consult with me, I will have no reason to leave it in limbo. In all honesty, I feel sorry for the people in the town—the small shops, the small businesses that need tourism for the town to live.”
Neath Port Talbot council did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Mark Drakeford, Wales’ first minister, told The Guardian however: “If it wasn’t for the things the Welsh government has done, there wouldn’t be an exhibition of any sort. This is not the end of the road. There is a bigger debate about creating a new contemporary art gallery for Wales and how that should be done. There’s a strong lobby from Port Talbot that it should be somewhere like there.”
Meanwhile, on a festive note Banksy has posted on Instagram a nativity scene, which is on show at the Walled Off hotel in Bethlehem. The work, entitled The Scar of Bethlehem, depicts Jesus’s manger in front of the separation barrier in Israel which is emblazoned with a star-shaped dent.