Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


The Diary: Banksy, Ed Vaizey, Spandex, Van Goghs, and Gurinder Chadha

Guerilla wallfare becomes a big draw

Banksy's latest "guerilla" graffiti has been graffitied over and the wall on which the offending vandals struck removed from public view in order to "restore" Banksy's original piece of art/vandalism. An ironic outcome, which will no doubt reignite the debate on whether Banksy has become part of the "establishment".

The Bristol-born street artist, who now has a Hollywood following, daubed a wall near the Ikea superstore in Croydon with the image of a punk struggling with instructions for an Ikea flat-pack. The image inspired a heated discussion when Sutton Council invited the public to decide if it should be whitewashed or preserved. Ninety percent of the voters gave it a resounding thumbs-up, but in the meantime, it was defaced by graffiti artists. The wall, which belongs to the construction company, Hanson Premix, was taken down last week. Sutton Council said the artwork would be placed back in a public place in Sutton after being cleaned up.

Family portraits

The Shadow Minister for Culture, Ed Vaizey, took his children to see the spectacular Anish Kapoor exhibition at the Royal Academy and says it was impossible for them to resist touching the artworks. "I took my kids to see it. They're three and one, and all the works apart from the grains of sand structures are saying 'climb all over me'. The attendants had to tell people not to touch." His account certainly tallies with my joyful experience of the RA show, which, I observed, had grown-ups behaving like big kids.

Comic-strip tease

The world's first gay comic-book heroes are to feature in a series called 'Spandex', which follows the adventures of a glamorous transvestite, Liberty, and a lesbian called Diva. There's also Indigo, a French teleporter, Mr Muscles and Butch, who are super-strong twins among the Brighton-based clique. Together, they fight off enemies with names like Muscle Mary, Pussy, Les Girlz and the 50ft Lesbian. The first issue will apparently introduce the team and begin to delve into the character's complex personal lives.

Restoration drama for the Van Goghs

Pascal Cotte, the engineer who uncovered the true colours of the 'Mona Lisa' with the powerful multi-spectral camera he invented (currently exhibited at Manchester's Museum of Science & Industry) tells me of another discovery he recently made. Van Gogh attempted to "restore" his original painting, 'The Bedroom', in spite of the fact that his brother, Theo, sent him paint to create a second version of the same painting. "I discovered when comparing the two paintings, which are in Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum and in the Art Institute of Chicago, that the first version deteriorated very fast. Van Gogh's brother told him to make a new version, which Van Gogh did. But I found through the brush-strokes that Van Gogh used pigments that his brother sent to restore the first one."

Christmas comes early for director

Gurinder Chadha, the director of Bend It Like Beckham, who had just put the finishing touches to her latest film project, It's a Wonderful Afterlife, the day I met her at the launch of Somerset House's ice rink and Christmas tree, was excited about her next film which is aimed at children. "I'll film it in India and it'll have elephants. It's the kind of film that I watched when I was a kid, an adventure story with two children." Meanwhile, her own two children were having an adventure of their own: "It's the first time they've tasted candyfloss," she said. Yes, and it was Tiffany's candyfloss at that!