‘It leaves a true legacy’: Port Talbot says goodbye to ‘Season’s Greetings’ Banksy mural

280122 Banksy vigil Port Talbot PA Images and Sofia Lewis
Port Talbot residents gathered to say goodbye to an artwork that has had a significant impact on the town. Credit: PA Images and Sofia Lewis

Port Talbot locals held a candle-lit vigil last night to mark the departure of a Banksy mural, which appeared on the wall of a garage in 2018.

The artwork, titled ‘Season’s Greetings’, attracted international media attention and tens of thousands of visitors to the town.

But now, the owner of the work is set to move it from its current site in Port Talbot to an new location.

The vigil was organised by ARTwalk Port Talbot, a community street art project.

The event encouraged locals to share poetry and songs, vent their disappointment and speak about their hopes for Banksy’s creative legacy in Port Talbot.

“The vigil was a chance for the community to have their voices heard in a media story that has been dominated by the art’s owner and the council,” explained Bev Simmonds-Owen, ARTwalk Port Talbot Committee Member.

Locals discussed their sadness to see the artwork leave the town, as well their optimism for the future. Credit: Sofia Lewis

The owner of 'Season's Greetings', John Brandler, purchased the artwork from the original garage owner in 2019, and later moved it into an unoccupied retail unit in Ty’r Orsaf, in the centre of Port Talbot.

He told ITV Wales News that the local council had asked him to move the Banksy from its current premises to make way for the next occupant.

John Brandler said: “I was happy to leave it in Port Talbot. It was the council that asked me to move it. They told me in an email that my loan period was up and someone else is taking over the lease.

“I am very sad because it should have been the most earth-changing and life-changing opportunity for the town.”

Credit: Sofia Lewis

A spokesperson for Neath Port Talbot Council said that the agreement to display the artwork in its Port Talbot premises, following Mr Brandler’s purchase of it, was a “temporary arrangement” which ended on January 14th, 2022.

Neath Port Talbot Council Leader, Cllr Ted Latham, said discussions were held on keeping the artwork in the town, but that the costs would have been too high.

Cllr Latham said: “The council was informed it would have to meet the costs of its removal and installation into a new venue, to continue to cover the insurance and to pay a fee in the region of £100,000 per year for the loan of the work.”

A spokesperson for the council added that it: “Wishes the owner of ‘Season’s Greetings’ well and is grateful so many people had the chance to view it here in the time it was loaned to us. The future of Season’s Greetings is now of course a matter for Mr Brandler.”

The artwork has been housed in Ty'r Orsaf, an unoccupied retail unit near Port Talbot's Transport Hub, since 2019. Credit: PA Images

Locals also wanted to use the vigil to celebrate the legacy of the artwork.

“People are sad to see it go but also want to celebrate the way it has inspired and instigated the local community to pay more attention to the arts," Bev Simmonds Owen explained.

This is echoed by Paul Jenkins, a Cardiff-based theatre director and founder of ARTwalk Port Talbot.

“There's a huge affection for the Banksy in the town, so a lot of people will be disappointed to see it leave,” he said.

Prior to the pandemic, Mr Jenkins had been working on a documentary play about the impact of the Banksy on Port Talbot residents. 

He has since secured Lottery funding to set up ARTwalk Port Talbot, a project which showcases both local artists and newly-commissioned works through a smartphone-led street art trail.“Since the Banksy arrived, it has ignited a passionate interest in street art and the potential of the creative industries in the town. 

Along with the ARTwalk street art trail and app, the only of its kind in Wales, there will be a very true legacy that Banksy leaves in the town.”Read more: