Covid-19: UK artist Banksy ‘stealth paints’ on London Underground encouraging people to wear facemasks (VIDEO)

Banksy’s signature rat stencils were aimed at encouraging more people to wear facemasks while using public transport. —Screengrab via Instagram/@banksy.
Banksy’s signature rat stencils were aimed at encouraging more people to wear facemasks while using public transport. —Screengrab via Instagram/@banksy.

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PETALING JAYA, July 15 — UK street art icon Banksy is up to his old tricks again. 

This time, the anonymous graffiti artist entered the ongoing mask debate in the country as he took to the world famous London Tube with his newest playful artwork

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

. . If you don’t mask - you don’t get.

A post shared by Banksy (@banksy) on

 

Captioned “If you don’t mask—you don’t get”, Banksy uploaded the making-of video of his Covid-19 inspired artwork onto his official Instagram page yesterday.

Donned in a white boiler suit, orange vest, goggles, gloves, a protective mask and a spray-cleaning bottle, the enigmatic artist disguised himself as a Transport for London (TFL) worker, before jumping on the train at the Baker Street station in Westminster, London. 

TFL workers wear the exact same thing when tasked with deep cleaning and sanitising train carriages during the Covid-19 pandemic—as Banksy proved with a short excerpt at the beginning of the video.

Once on the train, Banksy immediately gets to work as he’s seen spray-painting a stencil of his famed rats sneezing onto the walls of the train carriage, revealing that his spray-cleaning bottle was actually filled with paint and not a disinfectant. 

The artist created these playful Covid-19 inspired images on the train carriage. — Screengrab via Instagram/@banksy.
The artist created these playful Covid-19 inspired images on the train carriage. — Screengrab via Instagram/@banksy.

After having a short word with a fellow passenger, presumably to ask him to move to another part of the train, he then spray paints more of his trademark rats—this time with one using a mask as a parachute and another struggling to figure out how to put one on. 

He even spray painted a rat hanging from the carriage walls, conveniently holding a bottle of hand sanitiser right next to his name on the driver’s door of the train. 

At the end of the video, the words “I get lockdown” appear on the side of a station wall before the train door’s close to reveal the “but I get up again” phrase, with two rats reaching out to each other,  in reference to Chubawumba’s 1997 hit “Tubthumping”. 

Banksy’s post has since garnered over three million views on Instagram alone. 

According to CNN, TFL has since confirmed that Banksy’s artwork was removed “some days ago” because it was in violation of TFL’s strict anti-graffiti policy.

Banksy is known for highlighting current social issues in his work. — Screengrab via Instagram/@banksy.
Banksy is known for highlighting current social issues in his work. — Screengrab via Instagram/@banksy.

Even though the artwork was erased, TFL also stated that it appreciated the artist’s sentiment of encouraging more people to wear a facemask and would like to offer Banksy a chance to do a newer version of the artwork in a  “more suitable location”.

Face coverings or wearing a facemask became a requirement for everyone using public transport in the UK on June 15. 

Banksy has remained anonymous ever since he began spray-painting rats and monkeys on trains and walls in his home city of Bristol in the 1990s, drawing inspiration from French stencil artist Blek le Rat, before becoming well-known as an artist who would poke fun at big companies and send political messages through his work. 

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