Page last updated at 14:56 GMT, Friday, 24 October 2008 15:56 UK

Council orders Banksy art removal

Banksy's CCTV mural on Newman Street
The mural will be removed once the owner of the wall is established

An artwork by street artist Banksy in central London will be removed to send a message to graffiti artists in the city, a council has decided.

Westminster City Council has ordered a 23ft-high (7m) mural, entitled One Nation Under CCTV, to be removed from a building on Newman Street.

The artist's sketches have sold for thousands of pounds at auctions.

But deputy leader of the council Robert Davis said keeping the mural would mean "condoning" graffiti.

The mural has the words "One Nation Under CCTV" stencilled above two painted people.

One appears to be a child in a red hooded top apparently painting the words, while a police officer holding a camera and a brown dog look on.

The mural is painted on the wall of a building shared by Royal Mail and another business.

Of course he is not going to fill in a form and apply for permission. Notoriety is what makes Banksy exist
Rupert Maas, art critic

The council said the artist did not gain the necessary permission and, once it has established who owns the painted wall, the artwork will be removed by the owner.

Mr Davis, who is also chairman of the council's planning sub committee, said: "I take the view that this is graffiti and if you condone this then what is the difference between this and all the other graffiti you see scrawled across the city?

"If you condone this then you condone graffiti all over London."

Mr Davis said the building's owner had "every right" to sell or exhibit the Banksy graffiti - as long as it was removed from the wall.

"What we are against is people coming around without proper permission or consent and exhibiting their work without permission."

'Vibrant and interesting'

Art critic Rupert Maas defended Banksy's graffiti, saying it made the city "vibrant and interesting".

"He is doing something that is quite valid," Mr Maas said.

"Here he is making a point that we are increasingly governed by CCTV cameras. I think it's great - good for him."

Mr Maas added: "Of course he is not going to fill in a form and apply for permission. Notoriety is what makes Banksy exist."

Banksy has created at least one other artwork in the borough, in an underpass in Marble Arch.

But that mural has not been removed as the whole area is being redeveloped, the council said.

"One option would be to remove it and sell it and invest that money into council services," Mr Davis said.

On Thursday a Banksy oil canvas, entitled Tesco Value Tomato Soup, was sold for 117,600 by auction house Bonhams.

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