Opinion on graffiti is greatly divided with many thinking it works of art while many others consider it vandalism. City councils in the UK spend hundreds of thousands of pounds of tax money every year cleaning graffiti from walls and buildings, but are they mistakenly washing away future heritage assets?
Bristol University think so.
In July, a piece of graffiti by renowned artist Banksy called Gorilla in a Pink Mask was scrubbed away by council cleaners who were under the impression it was 'regular' graffiti.
Researchers from Bristol University believe that Banksy's work should be considered part of Britain's heritage and should be legally protected from damage or removal.
Leading the researchers is postgraduate law student John Webster, who specialises in planning law. He believes that Banksy's artwork, which often sells for significant amounts of money, should be protected by the Listed Buildings Act.
He said: "There is clearly a strong interest in Banksy's work that appears to be celebrated in popular culture as an artist in his own right.
"It can be argued that his work, due to its political and social statements, carries a cultural significance in modern society. The public has indicated that this needs to be kept and by extension, preserved.
"An application for listing is one of these methods. The effect of listing would also ensure that the work could be preserved for future generations and grants could be applied for to preserve the work."
Residents of Bristol seem to be keen to protect Banksy's work. A poll conducted by the local council in 2006 showed that 93% of people wanted to protect one of his pieces on a clinic's wall that overlooked Park Street.
Mr Webster said: "In terms of should a Banksy work be listed, it is clearly a future heritage asset.
"If Banksy's work at Park Street is unable to gain full protection through listing, it is reliant on councils protecting what their communities want to keep by drafting in local policy.
"The ongoing process in preserving the Park Street Banksy will be on Bristol City Council taking action to maintain it for years to come, however it is still open for an application to be made to list in 15 years or more when a history of preservation could be gained."
In the past, other unusual things have been listed as items of English Heritage such as the zebra crossing on Abbey Road that featured on The Beatles' album cover. However, as yet there is no guidance from English Heritage concerning graffiti.
Read more on the story (Daily Mail)
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