Rogue traffic cone inspired Banksy to open 'Cut and Run' exhibition at Glasgow's GoMA

The Duke of Wellington statue wearing a traffic cone and Yes sticker in Glasgow, ahead of the Scottish independence referendum.
A traffic cone has famously sat on the Duke of Edinburgh statue's head outside the GoMA in Glasgow for decades. Credit: Banksy/ PA

A rare authorised exhibition of work by Banksy is set to open in Glasgow – the artist’s first solo show for 14 years.

The Cut & Run show, taking place at the city’s Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), has been officially authorised by the elusive street artist.

The exhibition, which opens on Sunday, spans 25 years of the anonymous artist's work.

It will feature many of the stencils the artist has used to create his pieces, which typically stealthily appear on streetscapes and properties, sparking curiosity and often fanfare.

And the choice of location for his first exhibition in decades is very deliberate.

Glasgow’s GoMA, where the exhibition Cut & Run opened in June Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

Banksy said the traffic cone which famously sits on the head of the Duke of Wellington statue outside the gallery was behind the decision to exhibit there.

A gallery label for the show said: “For anyone who isn’t aware – the statue out the front has had a cone on its head continuously for the past 40-odd years. Despite the best efforts of the council and police, every time one is removed another takes its place.

“This might sound absurd and pretentious (just wait until you see the rest of the exhibition), but it’s my favourite work of art in the UK and the reason I’ve brought the show here.”

Banksy also said of the Scotland exhibition: “I’ve kept these stencils hidden away for years, mindful they could be used as evidence in a charge of criminal damage.

The stencil for Girl With Balloon is on show Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

“But that moment seems to have passed, so now I’m exhibiting them in a gallery as works of art. I’m not sure which is the greater crime.”

The show includes authentic artefacts, ephemera and the artist’s actual toilet.

A number of unsanctioned exhibitions of the artist’s work have taken place around the world in recent years.

However Banksy said: “While the unauthorised Banksy shows might look like sweepings from my studio floor, Cut & Run really is the actual sweepings from my studio floor.”

Spanning from 1998 to the present day, the artist calls the exhibition “25 years card labour”.

Pieces in the exhibition include the stencils for Girl With Balloon and Kissing Coppers.

It also features a model explaining how the artist managed to shred Girl With Balloon during an auction at Sotheby’s in London in 2018.

The artwork hit the headlines when it partially self-destructed at the conclusion of an auction in which it had been sold for £1.1 million.

Banksy stencil featuring kissing policemen which features in exhibition Cut & Run Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

The canvas was passed through a secret shredder hidden inside large frame, leaving the bottom half in tatters and only a solitary red balloon left on a white background in the frame.

The artist renamed the work Love Is In The Bin and it sold at auction for £18.58 million in 2021.

A stencil for a work that appeared on a damaged building in Ukraine, showing a female gymnast balancing, is also on show, as is the stab-proof Union Jack vest Stormzy wore when he headlined at Glastonbury in 2019.

The exhibition will open on Sunday and will run for three months, opening all night at weekends. If it proves popular the show may then tour.

GoMA museum manager Gareth James said the exhibition is a “perfect fit for GoMA and the city”.

He told The Herald: “This has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with an artist who has been exciting and challenging people around the world with their work over the past 25 years.”

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