The video, shared to Banksy’s social media, includes footage of the famous 1980s PBS painter Bob Ross, while the mysterious Bristol artist artfully spray-paints an image on the Reading prison wall.
Banksy’s painting, which was discovered on 1 March, shows a prisoner who resembles famous inmate Oscar Wilde escaping from the Berkshire prison using a bedsheet fashioned into a rope. The bedsheets, meanwhile, are tied to a typewriter.
Oscar Wilde was detained in Reading Prison in the late 19th century after an “indecent” affair with Lord Alfred Douglas. The jail famously inspired the poem “Ballad of Reading Gaol”, which commented on the harshness of the Victorian penal system.
In the video, Banksy confirms that the artwork is called “Create Escape”.
Today, the prison has been derelict since 2013 and was put up for sale by the government in 2019. Currently, the Reading council hopes to revive a bid to turn it into an arts complex, according to the BBC.
Discussing the artwork’s message, Banksy expert and vice-chancellor of Arts University Bournemouth Prof Paul Gough told the BBC: “It’s possibly a comment on the prison's potential use as an arts centre, but the fact that it’s got a typewriter and that it’s all about paper and writing might be some sort of commentary on what's happening with news media and Facebook.”
Meanwhile, Reading East MP Matt Rodda thanked the artist (later revealed to be Banksy) saying: “I'd like to thank Banksy, or whoever else painted this, for their support for the campaign to save Reading Gaol... This unique historic building should be saved for future generations.”
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