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Page last updated at 09:19 GMT, Wednesday, 20 October 2010 10:19 UK
Has Banksy left his mark at a Torquay hotel?
By Jemima Laing
BBC Devon

Wall at Grosvenor Hotel, Torquay

It is not every day you turn up to work and arguably the world's most famous graffiti artist has left his mark in the few hours you have been away.

But for Joleen Layman, arriving at work at Torquay's Grosvenor Hotel, that was just what awaited her.

The image of a young boy drawing a robot is believed to be by Banksy, the anonymous Bristolian artist.

It has been created around an extractor fan fixed to an exterior wall of the Belgrave Road hotel.

"I was at work on the Sunday night and it wasn't there when I left," said Joleen, who is the hotel's general manager.

"But when I drove in in the morning I noticed the cardboard box first and I parked the car then went back and had another look.

"It just made me smile - I didn't know right away that it was a Banksy.

"I think it's great."

Banksy strikes at Torquay hotel

There has been no formal identification of the artwork but an image of it has now appeared on the artist's own website.

And BBC Devon contacted the company which deals with Banksy's publicity who said: "Unfortunately Banksy rarely gives comments."

Banksy first made his name in Bristol in the 1990s, with a series of graffiti paintings on iconic local buildings such as the city council headquarters and an M32 bridge.

In the intervening years his work has become highly collectable, attracting celebrity buyers including Brad Pitt and Robbie Williams.

So once staff at the Grosvenor Hotel - which is currently up for sale -realised what they had on their hands steps were taken to protect the 8ft-high work.

"It's been carefully boarded over," said Joleen.

"We hope to have it covered in Perspex soon, that way it will be protected and can be enjoyed by anyone walking or driving past.

"It's crazy how much interest it has generated, the phone has been ringing off the hook."

So how does she think Banksy might have known the hotel had a wall that could do with his trademark kind of makeover?

"It did occur to me that he may have been staying with us," laughed Joleen.

"Who knows!"




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