Banksy’s back. The illest street artist of them all hit Wales with a surprise Wednesday—a new mural on air pollution that does not hold back.
He took to Port Talbot, a small town near the Swansea Bay that is most known for its steel plant, one of the largest in the world. Naturally, the mural had everything to do with this.
In July, residents of the town raised concerns over black dust that coated their homes, pets, and children who played outside. It’s among one of the most highly polluted towns in the U.K., per a 2017 report.
Banksy, of course, had his own twist on this. It’s wintertime, so most of what falls from the sky should be magical white snow. His piece, on a corner of a garage, shows a young boy enjoying the snow, sticking his tongue out the way most kids do. However, turn the corner, and viewers can see that this is not snow but, rather, ash from a burning dumpster.
He posted a video with close-ups on his Instagram to the tune of “Little Snowflake.” After showing the art, the camera zooms out to show the Tata Steel Plant, a major employer (and polluter) for this community.
Ironically enough, the garage owner, Ian Lewis, works for the plant, reports the Associated Press. Some residents love it, but others have tried to ruin it with paint and sledgehammers, prompting the town council put up a metal fence around the artwork to protect it.
And they’d be foolish not to. Banksy’s work can be worth more than a million dollars. And since this garage doesn’t belong to him, well, technically, the owner can do what he pleases with it!
Anyway, it’s no surprise Banksy chose to highlight the town’s pollution. He’s touched on social issues relating to war, queerness, protests, and surveillance. Air pollution deserves plenty of attention, too, seeing as 95 percent of the world is exposed to air that doesn’t meet the World Health Organization’s guidelines. This translates to 7 million premature deaths a year.
Maybe more people in power will start to care about this issue after witnessing Banksy’s work. The locals sure seem interested, at least.