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Banksy: Prison wall painting appears in Reading on site campaigners want to be turned into arts centre

Written by on 3 March 2021

It looks like Banksy may have been in action once again, with an artwork in his signature style appearing on the side of a former prison in Reading.

Depicting an inmate escaping down the side of the wall on a rope made of bedsheets, and tied to a typewriter, the painting was created overnight on Sunday at the former HM Prison in Reading, Berkshire, which closed in 2014.

There are suggestions the Banksy-esque mural could be of one of the jail’s most famous inmates, the poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, who was sentenced to two years after being convicted of gross indecency in 1895.

A suspected new mural by artist Banksy is seen on a wall at HM Reading Prison Image: Fans are waiting to see if Banksy claims the work A suspected new mural by artist Banksy is seen on a wall at HM Reading Prison  Image: Campaigners are calling for the former prison to be turned into an arts centre rather than being sold for housing

It has drawn crowds since it was first spotted on Monday morning, but has not yet been claimed officially.

The anonymous street artist will often post photographs of his work on Instagram to confirm they are his, and fans are waiting to see if this one will appear.

Banksy’s last confirmed work was a painting showing an elderly-looking woman sneezing, her dentures flying into the air, on the side of a house in Bristol.

Earlier this year, one of his murals painted on a wall in Nottingham was bought by an art collector and removed.

Banksy also made headlines last year for his artwork highlighting the COVID-19 crisis, painting his trademark rats on a tube train with the message: “If you don’t mask – you don’t get.”

However, the graffiti was removed by cleaners who did not realise it was by Banksy, Transport for London said.

In Reading, there has been a campaign for several years to turn the former prison into an arts centre rather than being sold off for housing.

Wokingham street artist Pistol has said the work is an indication Banksy has pledged his support to the ongoing campaign, according to the Berkshire Live news site.

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