A new Banksy work appears in Wales: a holiday greeting against pollution


A new Banksy mural: it has appeared in Port Talbot, Wales. A complaint against pollution.

A new mural by Banksy (Bristol, 1974) has appeared on a garage wall in Port Talbot, a seaside town of 35,000 in Wales, a few miles from Swansea. The work, which occupies the corner of the wall, depicts on one side a child with a sled who, with arms wide open, tries to catch on the fly, with his tongue, what look like snowflakes falling on a cold winter day. But on the other side we understand that it is not snow but ash, coming from what appears to be a dumpster or the top of a chimney. The estranging effect of the work is given by the fact that, if we stand frontally toward the child, we do not see the smokestack, and the work appears to us as a quiet winter scene, and hidden from the viewer is the disturbing truth that is revealed by turning the corner.

It was Banksy himself who confirmed the authorship of the work, with a video posted on his Instagram account accompanied, in commentary, by the phrase Season’s greetings (perhaps the title of the work: translated, it means “Happy Holidays”). In the video, to the notes of the Christmas song Little Snowflake, we see details of the work, then the field widens to show it in full, and finally, we see a panorama of the gray industrial area of Port Talbot. Indeed, the small Welsh town is known for its steel mills (the largest in the United Kingdom and among the largest in the world), employing more than 4,000 people.

The work could be read as a complaint against pollution: in May this year, aWorld Health Organization report had branded Port Talbot as the most polluted city in the United Kingdom, only to be corrected shortly thereafter due to an incorrect reading of PM2 levels, estimated to be in excess. The city, however, is certainly not without its problems: Port Talbot is heavily dependent on its steel mills, is “struggling to find a life beyond steel” (so headlined the Guardian in an article two years ago about the city) and experiences high rates of poverty.

Banksy’s mural, meanwhile, has been fenced off, and the Port Talbot City Council has taken steps to protect the work, in agreement with the owner of the garage(Ian Lewis, a 55-year-old steel mill worker). “Right now I’m a bit upset,” Lewis told the Guardian. “Banksy fans are already coming to see the work.” In general, Port Talbot residents have welcomed the mural, and many see it as an enrichment for the city.

A new Banksy work appears in Wales: a holiday greeting against pollution
A new Banksy work appears in Wales: a holiday greeting against pollution


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