British street artist Banksy confirmed a new mural showing a 1950s housewife with a swollen eye apparently pushing a man into an abandoned chest freezer was his work early on Valentine’s Day, just hours before the appliance was removed.
The artwork, which Banksy titled “Valentine’s day mascara” on his website, appeared in the seaside town of Margate, east England, on Sunday night. Its subject and timing appear to highlight violence against women.
Banksy offers few clues about his work, which usually appears in public locations overnight, beyond a confirmation on social media.
Artist Pete Brown was painting the scene when the genuine freezer — which formed an integral part of the mural — was removed on Tuesday morning.
“A council truck turned up and they took away the freezer,” he said, adding that the vehicle had the hazard warning lights and a metal cage typical of those used to clear fly-tipping.
Thanet District Council said the graffiti was on a wall of a privately owned property, but the freezer, which was believed to have been part of the installation, had been removed by council operatives on the grounds of safety as it was on public land.
“The fridge freezer is now in storage and will be returned once it has been made safe to the public,” the council said. “We will be contacting the owner of the property to discuss the options to preserve the artwork for the district.”
Brown, who was visiting Margate from Bath, said he had come to the resort to paint the sea, but after coming across the mural had spent his time painting a scene of a wall instead.
Local resident Lee Hilton said he loved art and was really happy it had appeared.
“I always thought maybe someone might put a mural on the wall, but I was never expecting a Banksy,” he said.
He said he had seen a van arrive on Sunday night and cover the area with a tarpaulin. When he woke up on Monday the mural was there.
But he did not catch sight of the elusive artist, and said even if he had done, he would not have wanted to give his identity away.