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Camden News - by RICHARD OSLEY
Published: 12 June 2008
The Banksy stencil in King's Cross
The Banksy stencil in King’s Cross
Banksy’s rat becomes best protected rodent in town

TOWN Hall chiefs want to insure a Banksy stencil printed on the side of their headquarters in King’s Cross amid fears that it could somehow be stolen.
Newly released documents show the level of concern among council staff over how they should protect the Argyle Road picture of a rat holding an exclamation mark.
Some officials are worried that the stencil is fading, while others have suggested that it should be framed and accompanied with a plaque, legitimising it as public art.
Graffiti on Camden Council’s headquarters would normally be washed away by its team of grime-busters but Banksy’s work has been given a different treatment, with a protective Perspex panel covering the rat.
A series of emails which pinged around the Town Hall late last year show Lib Dem deputy leader Councillor Janet Grauberg sent out orders to protect the stencil or risk “getting into trouble”.
She told colleagues: “Since hearing about the Banksy on the Town Hall I have seen several books about his work. While I understand the issues about graffiti, it is quite clear this is something different and we would be in a lot of trouble if we just got rid of it.”
The council water­blast­ed the building last year but demanded a hand-clean around the stencil to ensure it was not damaged.
One official said he did not want to remove the Perspex panel during the clean-up operation because “I feel we actually might lose the artwork in the process.”
Stuart Dilley, a senior officer in the housing department, told colleagues: “I will ensure the ‘Banksy’ is protected during the works or until a decision is confirmed. We will need to be careful regarding publicity as obviously if the ‘art’ is worth something this would increase the danger of theft.”
He favoured fitting a protective cover, adding: “If this option is accepted then it would also deliver the benefit of continuing to have the art on public display.”
He later added: “I have also spoken to our Insurance Section to see if our brokers can offer cover against damage/vandal­ism but they have advised that this is not possible.”
The emails were released to the New Journal under the Freedom of Information Act.
Banksy stencils can also be seen in Chalk Farm Road, Chalk Farm, and Newport Street, Bloomsbury. His work has sold for millions at auction.

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