When Hull-based glazing specialist EYG completed what seemed a pretty regular contract at a former police station in Wales last year, little more was thought of it. However, then came the call asking for teams from its commercial projects division to go back.
It was not because something was wrong, but because plans were being drawn up to move artwork by the notorious British street artist Banksy, which had appeared on a garage in the town of Port Talbot shortly before last Christmas, and place it on secure display.
Essex-based gallery owner John Brandler, who reportedly paid a six figure sum to buy the artwork from the garage owner, then agreed to loan it to the town to be displayed for three years, a move which could help potentially attract thousands of visitors.
The building identified to house the ‘Seasons Greetings’ piece was a former police station at which EYG had previously fitted glazing screens and doors, resulting in the call to remove a large g screen to make way for the ‘Banksy’ – and to refit it once the artwork was installed.
“Usually a call from somebody about a job carried out the previous year asking you to go back is not something any business wants to take, but this has of course been very different for us and was very exciting to be involved in,” said Steve Swallow, commercial director at EYG.
“We were contacted by Dave Williams, the civil contracts manager who was in charge of moving the artwork, as he had been in touch with the local council to ask who has supplied all the glazing to the premises
“He wanted the same company to carry out the removal and refit of the glazing screen which the artwork was being placed behind, as it is a specialist job.
“It was relatively straight forward for our team, as it’s what we do every day, but of course this time the eyes of the world were watching given the huge operation to move the artwork. That’s what made it so exciting, and a bit nerve-racking.
“Of course we were delighted to be playing a small part in helping to ensure this artwork is protected for the long term and made available for thousands of people to view and enjoy.”
Contractors faced difficult challenge to safely move 4.5 tonne garage corner
The mural depicts a small boy with a sledge dressed in winter attire looking up sticking his tongue out to catch what appear to be falling snowflakes.
The other half of the image – painted around a corner on the garage – shows that the ‘snowflakes’ are actually smoke and ash coming from a fire pit, with the boy completely unaware of his situation.
Neath Port Talbot council reached an agreement with the housing organisation that owns the former police station site, Ty’r Orsaf, in April, enabling the historic move of the 4.5-tonne corner section of the garage.
Civil engineers drilled into the two external walls of the garage, which was covered in resin to stop it cracking, cutting it out with power tools, using wooden framing to keep it upright.
It was then carefully craned low-loader lorry and transported by police escort to its new home.
There, an EYG Commercial team, led by Andy Coles, were on hand to remove curtain walling screening and replace it once the artwork was safely in place on Thursday, ensuring it is fully protected and visible for the expected thousands of visitors.
Banksy confirmed the work was his by releasing a video of the mural accompanied by the Christmas song Little Snowflake, with camera footage rising above the garage and showing Port Talbot’s rooftops and the chimneys of the steelworks and other industrial buildings.
In January 2018, a Banksy appeared in EYG Commercial’s home city Hull in the form of a mural on the disused, raised Scott Street Bridge.
It depicts a child wielding a wooden sword with a pencil attached to the end. Next to it is a caption that reads: “Draw the raised bridge!”.
[Paul Baxter – Arrival PR]