Tensions flared in Liverpool after a group known for removing, exhibiting and selling Banksy artworks cut out one of the enigmatic artist’s murals from a wall in Liverpool’s city centre on Saturday (17 September).
‘Love Plane’ features a black and white biplane leaving a white heart-shaped trail of smoke behind it. It first appeared on the wall of an outdoor car park in Rumford Place in 2011 but has sustained significant damage ever since. With the building on which the mural appeared due for redevelopment, The Sincura Group stepped in to remove it. On its website, the group alerted the residents of Liverpool to to its plans to restore the work and exhibit it at the UK’s first street art museum, the Gallery at Berry House Baltic Triangle, due to open in late 2017 or early 2018. “With so many Banksy artworks disappearing from public view this will ensure your city preserves its street art heritage and showcases future talent,” the statement reads.
With ownership rights over street art a hot issue in the UK, The Sincura Group were careful to explain that the removal of ‘Love Plane’ had taken place with the cooperation of the owners of the wall on which the mural appeared. The group’s director Tony Baxter told Liverpool’s Echo newspaper that they had been requested to remove the artwork before redevelopment took place to prevent it being destroyed. “We don’t approach anyone to take art out, we sit with the owners and see what can be done,” Baxter said. When police arrived at the site of the removal on Saturday morning following a call from a concerned resident The Sincura Group was prepared for questioning. “We had to show them we had all the correct documents and had instructions from the freeholders, and they were happy with that,” Baxter explained.
This was not enough to allay the concerns of some local residents who were said to react angrily to the news of the Banksy’s removal. Liverpool graffiti artist Sam Fishwick, told BBC news that street art belonged on the street and not in a museum. “It’s raw, it’s gritty, it’s on the street, it’s not meant to be there. When you go and see it in a gallery it loses its charm, it loses its character,” he said.