Banksy confirms new art of prisoner escaping on side of Reading former prison at centre of row over its future
BANSKY has confirmed the artwork painted on a wall of a former jail was done by him.
The street artist, whose identity has never been revealed, said the painting was his via a video posted to his Instagram account on Thursday as he spoofs an instruction art video.
Bansky is shown executing the work called Create Escape at night on an outside wall of what used to be Reading Prison.
The image shows a prisoner escaping the now-closed institution with a typewriter at the bottom of a 'rope' made out of sheets of paper knotted together.
The video is set to archive commentary from an episode of The Joy Of Painting with Bob Ross.
It opens with American painter Ross saying: "Hello, I'm Bob Ross. I'd like to welcome you to The Joy Of Painting.
"Got all your materials out, ready to do a fantastic painting with me? Good."
The footage then turns to Banksy picking up and carrying a ladder, then picking out spray cans, in the dark.
Banksy places a stencil for his piece on the wall of Reading Prison and begins to spray it with black paint.
The artist wearing a headtorch, then sprays white paint before using a roller to apply grey paint.
He applies water to the piece, as Ross encourages viewers to do so, then completes the typewriter as sirens are heard.
Finally, Banksy uses a marker pen to represent words from the typewriter.
Footage shows the completed piece in daylight as Ross says: "Painting to me represents freedom. I can create the kind of world that I want to see and I want to be part of."
People are shown gathering to look at the piece, which appeared on the wall on Monday.
Two police officers appear to inspect the piece as Ross says: "That really is the fun part of this whole technique, so from all of us here, I'd like to wish you happy painting and God bless my friend".
It has been likened to poet Oscar Wilde, who was held in the jail after being convicted of gross indecency with other men in 1895.
His two-year incarceration made the prison – formerly known as Reading Gaol – a famous landmark in the area.
Wilde wrote poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol on memory of an execution that took place while he was at the jail.
Actor Stacy Keach also served six months at the prison after being convicted for trying to smuggle cocaine into England.
A campaign was launched to save the Grade II listed building after it was closed in 2014.
Locals now believe Banksy has created the artwork to help with the campaign.
Who is Banksy?
The world-famous artist usually creates his street art under the cover of darkness.
While Banksy is said to have travelled the world to create his art he is thought to have produced most of his work in the UK.
More than 120 works have been attributed to him over three decades.
Arguably Banksy’s most iconic piece, it appeared on the South Bank, London, in around 2002.
The title is written behind a young girl seen reaching for a balloon in the shape of a heart.
Banksy's artwork titled Girl With Balloon – a variation on the original – was up for auction at Sotheby's in London when it self-destructed.
A secret shredder destroyed the painting after it sold for £1million.
One resident said: "Could it be? #Banksy If so, that'll really add some impetus behind the campaign to stop the redevelopment of Reading Gaol. #rdguk".
The Ministry of Justice, which owns the building, is due to decide by March 15 whether it will be turned into an arts venue.
There are fears that if that bid by Reading Borough Council is unsuccessful, the Grade II-listed site could be sold to property developers.
Speaking after the piece was confirmed as a Banksy, Toby Davies, artistic director for RABBLE Theatre in Reading described it as "fantastic".
"It adds real kudos to the whole campaign to have someone who knows a thing or two about culture take a risk and come and do this on a Ministry of Justice building," Mr Davies told the PA news agency.
"It is phenomenal, it really displays how much it means to people.
"Whenever I speak to people, not just those in the culture world but those who walk past it every single day, they get very emotional about it.
"We understand in Reading that housing is needed but there are multiple sites in Reading and Berkshire for housing developments.
"Reading has never had the opportunity to have a go at an international culture centre that brings people together.
"It should be a bubbling centre of UK culture but it isn't and that's because we've never been given a chance.
"If there was ever a chance then this is it and it won't come again."
The campaign to turn the site into an arts hub has won the support of Stephen Fry, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Kenneth Branagh and Natalie Dormer.
Banksy's last confirmed artwork was an image of a woman sneezing out her dentures on the side of a semi-detached home in Bristol.
The artist confirmed the work on his Instagram, explaining it is named "Aachoo!!"
Reading Gaol was opened in 1844 but was shut in 2014 under The Closure of Prisons Order.
Calls have been made from locals, Reading Council and celebs such as Dame Judi Dench to save the building and make it a tourist attraction.
But in November 2015, Chancellor George Osborne and Justice Secretary Michael Gove confirmed the site would be sold to housing developers.
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