Banksy’s coronavirus-inspired stencils on London Underground were removed by the Transport for London due to anti-graffiti policy.
In a clip posted on the artist’s official Instagram page yesterday, a man disguised as a cleaner is seen stencilling the carriage with masked-themed rodents. However, it is unclear if the man is the artist himself.
With a caption that goes “If You Don't Mask, You Don't Get”, the piece features a number of rats wearing face masks in a range of pandemic-inspired poses – one sneezing, one spraying hand sanitizer and one parachuting with what appears to be a surgical mask.
The video ends with a line sprayed on the train doors and the tunnel wall that goes “I get lockdown, but I get up again”, riffing on the 1997 hit Tubthumping by British rock band Chumbawambam, which is also the background music of the video.
But hours after the video has been made public, Transport for London confirmed that the work was erased "some days ago" in accordance with the anti-graffiti policy.
In a statement, the government body extended its appreciation for "the sentiment of encouraging people to wear face coverings" and that the agency would welcome the artist to make a new version “in a suitable location”.
This was not the first time the enigmatic artist addressed the pandemic with his artwork.
In April, he released a set of images on Instagram showing rats lurking around his bathroom. A month later, he honoured the health care workers with an artwork titled Game Changer, featuring a child toying with a nurse doll in a mask and a superhero-style cape.
Since mid-June, mask-wearing has been compulsory on public transport in England under a new rule that aims to curb the spread of coronavirus.