Banksy gifts Welsh steel town a white Christmas attraction

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By Reuters

LONDON — Banksy fans are flocking to the Welsh town of Port Talbot to see a new mural by the elusive British street artist depicting a child covered in snow that is in fact ash from a burning bin.

The subversive artist confirmed on Instagram that the “Season’s Greetings” mural on a breeze block garage wall was genuine. It shows a small boy wrapped up against the cold with his tongue stuck out and arms aloft to catch snow flakes.

The rest of the mural around the corner of the garage shows that the white flakes are in fact ash from an industrial bin.

Port Talbot, on the edge of the Swansea Bay, is home to one of the biggest steelworks in the world, which has recently had to battle for survival.

Local councillor Rob Jones said the “globally viewed, newly arrived piece of guerrilla art” made Port Talbot the perfect place to house a recently mooted Welsh modern art gallery.

“At least one world class contemporary artist appears to view the interesting mix of peaceful hillsides alongside striking urban and industrial landscapes as a piece of art in itself,” Jones said.

In May, the World Health Organization apologized after it admitted that figures identifying Port Talbot as the most polluted town in the U.K. were wrong. It said Port Talbot’s air pollution actually measured 9.6853 micrograms, just under half the figure it originally gave the town and below the World Health Organization guideline of 10 micrograms.

Still, black dust from the town’s steelworks covered houses, cars and pets in July, a possible inspiration for the artwork.

Jones added that when it came to pollution, Port Talbot was on a par with or cleaner than many other towns and cities, and that its transport connections were very good too.

“Ease of access could perhaps have been one of the many reasons Banksy may have chosen Port Talbot,” he said.

The graffiti artist is known for producing politically charged sketches on walls from New York to Paris and Gaza City.

In one of the artist’s most provocative stunts, a painting of “Girl with Balloon” shredded itself into pieces the moment it sold at auction for more than $1.3 million. The buyer went ahead with the purchase.

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