Banksy confirms he’s behind new ‘escaping inmate’ street art on side of prison

News

A painting on the side of an ex-prison appearing to show an inmate escaping has been confirmed as a work by legendary artist Banksy.

The work, which appeared on the red brick wall of the former Reading Prison that once housed Oscar Wilde, was officially claimed by the artist on Thursday.

It shows an inmate escaping using a knotted spool of paper from a typewriter.

The elusive street artist posted a video on his Instagram account claiming responsibility for the work.

In the footage, told in a parody of an instruction art video, he is shown stealthily executing the design, which is called Create Escape.

The video is set to archive commentary from an episode of The Joy Of Painting with Bob Ross.

Reading Prison is renowned as the location where Oscar Wilde served two years’ hard labour for “gross indecency”.

Although the site closed to prisoners in 2013, its future is currently the focus of debate.

The Ministry of Justice, which owns the building, is due to decide by March 15 whether it will be turned into an arts venue.

There are concerns that if that bid by Reading Borough Council is unsuccessful, the Grade II-listed site could be sold to property developers.

Speaking after the piece was confirmed as a Banksy, Toby Davies, artistic director for RABBLE Theatre in Reading described it as “fantastic”.

“It adds real kudos to the whole campaign to have someone who knows a thing or two about culture take a risk and come and do this on a Ministry of Justice building,” Mr Davies said.

“It is phenomenal, it really displays how much it means to people.

Artwork on former prison confirmed as Banksy

“Whenever I speak to people, not just those in the culture world but those who walk past it every single day, they get very emotional about it.

“Reading has never had the opportunity to have a go at an international culture centre that brings people together.

“It should be a bubbling centre of UK culture but it isn’t and that’s because we’ve never been given a chance.

“If there was ever a chance then this is it and it won’t come again.”

The campaign to turn the site into an arts hub has won the support of Stephen Fry, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Kenneth Branagh and Natalie Dormer.

A spokesman for Reading Borough Council said: “We are thrilled that Banksy appears to have thrown his support behind the Council’s desire to transform the vacant Reading Gaol into a beacon of arts, heritage and culture with this piece of artwork he has aptly called ‘Create Escape’.

“The Council is pushing the Ministry of Justice, who own the site, to make suitable arrangements to protect the image.”