Banksy creates Coronavirus inspired, face mask-themed artwork on the London Underground

Posted on 16 July 2020
By Khyle Deen
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Famous graffiti artist Banksy has seemingly weighed in on the face mask debate in the best way he knows how, artwork, with a series of stencils on the London Underground that features his trademark rats having some difficulty coming to terms with the concept of face coverings.

A video posted on his Instagram page featured the street artist entering an underground train carriage, dressed as a member of the cleanup team, before stencilling his well known rats, depicting them as using the masks as parachutes and utilising hand sanitiser.

He is on a train approaching Baker Street and is shown editing the video with the title “London Underground – undergoes deep clean”.

Banksy is shown on a train approaching Baker Street, he’s then shown editing the video with the title “London Underground – underground deep clean”

The famed graffiti artist paints a sneezing rat, while another rat is depicted struggling to get a mask on, at the end of the clip, Banksy sprays the words “I get lockdown, but I get up again” a riff on Chumbawamba’s 1997 hit Tubthumping, which can be heard in the background.

Transport for London confirmed earlier this week that the work had been removed “some days ago” due to strict anti-graffiti policy, but that it would welcome Banksy to recreate his message “in a suitable location”.

The artwork comes at the same time that the government has gone back and forth on its approach to enforce the ruling that fact coverings be made mandatory in shops. Last week, Boris Johnson wore a mask in public, discussing the potential reality of them becoming compulsory, before Michael Gove denied that this was the plan later that same weekend.

48 hours later however, Matt Hancock, the health and social care secretary, confirmed in a Commons statement that shoppers would indeed be required to wear face coverings with legislation coming into effect on Friday 24th of July.

A requirement for face coverings on public transport in England on 15 June.

Captioned “If you don’t mask – you don’t get”, the Banksy video is the first new post by the artist since early June when he responded to the statue of Edward Colston being removed and thrown into the harbour in his home town of Bristol.

“What should we do with the empty plinth in the middle of Bristol?” he asked, prior to offering a solution. “We drag him out the water, put him back on the plinth, tie cable round his neck and commission some life size bronze statues of protesters in the act of pulling him down. Everyone happy. A famous day commemorated.”

This past April, Banksy released artwork created during lockdown with a series of rats causing mayhem in his bathroom, which was posted on Instagram and captioned “My wife hates it when I work from home”.

Before that, he created a piece in Bristol, which was later vandalised. The words “BCC wankers” was scrawled across the artwork, which was created in February and featured a girl firing a catapult filled with flowers.