The council which removed the freezer used in Banksy’s new artwork in Kent hours after the artist claimed it was theirs, has been returned.
The mural in Margate, titled Valentine’s Day Mascara, had incorporated a real-life chest freezer, a broken garden chair, a blue crate and an empty beer bottle, which were all removed from the site on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson from Thanet District Council said it was “necessary” to carry out works to the freezer for “safety reasons”, adding that it had now been returned to its original position.
They said: “The council has a duty to ensure the ongoing safety of the public; it was necessary to carry out works to the freezer for health and safety reasons.
“Banksy raises the important issue of domestic abuse in this artwork. We are in touch with the owner of the property to understand their intentions around the preservation of the piece and to secure the best possible outcome for the local community and victims of domestic abuse.”
The freezer was incorporated into the wall painting on the side of a building showing a 1950s housewife with a swollen eye and a missing tooth who appeared to have shoved her male partner into a chest freezer.
Speculation about the post has suggested the Bristol-born artist was referencing violence against women on Valentine’s Day.
The decision to dismantle the artwork caused a stir, with North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale, whose constituency includes Margate in Kent, describing the council’s decision as “rather heavy-handed”, but clarified that he was not criticising them.
He said: “I know there are people who are saying: ‘Oh they should never have done this, they should have left it as it was.’ You can’t.
“If you’ve got something as potentially dangerous as a chest freezer into which a child could climb (into) and suffocate, you actually can’t responsibly just leave it, you have to do something about it to make it safe.”
The elusive street artist confirmed they were behind the artwork by sharing a series of photos of the piece on their Instagram account on Tuesday.