In Depth

Is Banksy warning kids about the corrupt political system?

Mystery street artist 'bombs' Bristol primary school with 'refreshing' new mural

160607-banksy-school.jpg

The world's most famous street artist, Banksy, has painted a mural on a school wall in Bristol as a thank you to its pupils.

Commentators say it makes a refreshing change from his heavier recent statements, but does it still offer a warning?

The elusive artist spray-painted the image - a stick drawing of a girl chasing a burning tyre - on a wall at Bridge Farm Primary School to thank the school for having named one of its houses after him, reports the BBC.

Pupils had written to Banksy before Easter, telling him they had voted to rename one of their four school houses in his honour. The artist's reply was discovered by teachers returning from the half-term break.

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The school caretaker initially thought the artwork was an act of vandalism and wanted to "clean it off", according to [on Kay, the BBC's West of England correspondent.

He only realised it was a work by Banksy when he found a handwritten letter from the artist near the mural, complete with some life advice for the pupils.

"Dear Bridge Farm School, Thanks for your letter and naming a house after me, please have a picture. If you don't like it feel free to add stuff, I'm sure the teachers won't mind. Remember – it's always easier to get forgiveness than permission. Much love, Banksy," said the note.

Head teacher Geoff Mason said the work will be preserved and the school had "no plans to sell it". He added that the surprise addition to the school's environment was "inspirational and aspirational".

Banksy's agent, Pest Control, has confirmed that the work is genuine – but warned that "because many Banksy pieces are created in an advanced state of intoxication, the authentication process can be lengthy and challenging".

The artist's works can fetch high prices at auction – in 2014, his mural Kissing Coppers, which originally appeared on a wall in Brighton, sold in Miami for nearly $500,000 (£343,000).

Banksy's latest work seems to refer to the traditional children's game of hoop-rolling, but the burning tire adds a more sinister element.

Beckett Mufson, from Vice's The Creators Project, says Banksy's "bombing" of the school building reveals his "sentimental side".

The "childlike scribbles" of the little girl and a lone flower framing the flaming tyre "could represent anything from the environment to the corrupt global political systems the children of Bridge Farm Primary will inherit soon enough", he continues.

And compared to the seriousness of Banksy's recent work dealing with climate change and the refugee crisis, this latest work is "refreshing".

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