'Banksy brought joy during these gloomy times'
Residents have been left devastated after Banksy's 'Aachoo!!' artwork was removed from its home in Vale Street earlier last month.
The mural, which depicts a woman sneezing out her false teeth and gives the illusion of the sneeze blowing down a row of houses, arrived in December on what is believed to be one of UK's steepest streets.
Banksy claimed the artwork on his Instagram account shortly after its discovery. But, its existence on the street was short lived as by February, it was boarded up and on March 12, the wall with Banksy's work was removed by crane from the side of the demi-detached house.
Wendy Coe, who lives local to Vale Street, said that she was "gutted" Banksy's artwork had been removed. She added: "It brought so much pleasure and excitement to our community during very gloomy times. My feeling is that Banksy’s street art should remain on the street for everyone to enjoy, not sold for private profit. At least we had it for a short while and were able to enjoy his gift to the Totterdown community."
Vale Street resident and artist Benji Appleby-Tyler - who stood on a 'soap box' outside his home with a sign saying 'I'm protesting this s*** here' while the street art was being taken away - said that the removal was a "source of devastation and personal insult".
He added: "I am appalled that a piece of public street art can be claimed as being owned by one person. During these challenging times, it was a source of joy having an original Banksy appear on our street overnight.
"However, this has now turned into a source of devastation and personal insult as our "Aachoo!!" sneezing lady has been stolen from our street.
"In the early days of enjoying our gifted artwork, a friend and I dressed up as 'Banksy angels' and collected donations for a local homeless charity. People were making an almost pilgrim-like journey to pay tribute at a much-needed site of pleasure and reflection.
"The location is key for the understanding the work. Without this, it has lost all significance.
"The whole procedure was painful to watch, both in terms of lack of any visible safety measures and the heart-wrenching thought that a crane would be lifting away our gift. We had no say in it happening."
It is not known whether the artwork is being prepared for auction, but news reports claim it was offered to gallery owner John Brandler of Brandler Galleries in Brentwood but he turned it down.
The South Bristol Voice contacted the council for comment regarding planning permission being sought for the removal of the artwork. The council responded that permission was not required.
Photo: 'Aachoo!!' being removed by crane - much to residents' disappointment. Photo courtesy of Chris Bianchi