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Banksy’s ‘Snorting Copper’ returns to Shoreditch after gruelling restoration

PUBLISHED: 08:22 06 October 2017 | UPDATED: 13:38 09 October 2017

The restored piece, which was unveiled on October 5. Picture: Global Street Art

The restored piece, which was unveiled on October 5. Picture: Global Street Art

Archant

An iconic Banksy artwork in Shoreditch that had been painted over, vandalised and hacked at with an angle grinder has somehow been restored.

Workers restored the piece over months. Picture: Global Street ArtWorkers restored the piece over months. Picture: Global Street Art

When the “Snorting Copper” appeared on the side of a public toilet in Curtain Road back in 2005, the location became one of the many pilgrimage sites for the street artist’s fans.

The work shows a policeman on his hands and knees appearing to be in the process of sniffing cocaine. But not long after its arrival, it was gone. The work was deemed “vandalism” by Hackney Council, and the wall was whitewashed.

That didn’t stop people trying to remove the bricks themselves, but it was eventually hidden behind plywood and painted over a few more times for good measure.

When Hamilton Court Developments bought the site to turn it into flats and offices, managing director Jonathan Ellis decided to see if they could bring it back to life.

“It was the coolest thing we’ve had the opportunity to do,” said Jonathan. “Our love of street art combined with the desire to bring back something that was once thought lost – it’s very rare that you get an opportunity like this.”

The challenge was given to the Fine Art Restoration Company, who took the two-tonne wall away for analysis.

“Over the years the artwork had been severely damaged, vandalised and at one point attacked with an angle grinder in an attempt to remove it one brick face at a time,” said Chris Bull, technical director. “The damage was extensive and the artwork was significantly hidden by multiple layers of over-painting.”

Despite the many hurdles, the piece was recovered after a gruelling 12-week project by 11 restorers and was unveiled last night at its original location.

The original Banksy seen here in 2005. Picture: Global Street ArtThe original Banksy seen here in 2005. Picture: Global Street Art

In a nice turnaround of events, Hackney mayor Phil Glanville turned up to do the honours.

“The return of the piece means the Shoreditch community can enjoy a piece of its history,” added Jonathan. “It’s something to be celebrated and cherished rather than censored.

“We didn’t want it to sit in a gallery – that’s not where it’s meant to be – it is meant to be free for the public to enjoy.”

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