Who did it? Why did they do it? Is it a tourist attraction? How much is it worth? If this has been done by someone who isn’t Banksy, would anyone have cared?
These are just some of the questions being asked as the public try and figure out the deeper meaning behind graffiti left on a Port Talbot garage of a child inhaling the contents of a burning bin.
95% of “street art” is the human equivalent of a dog pissing against a wall, leaving tags that look like they belong on the front of a LSD-inspired 60s album cover. When it’s good, however, it’s usually very good.
Uncultured philistines may have deduced the piece was on the trade off between economic security and the environment. Some might even think it was a Bristolian telling the world that Port Talbot is a burning rubbish bin and the last place you would want to prioritise a Modern Art Gallery over, for argument’s sake, improvements to air quality.
Without irony, the piece caused traffic problems as people drove to see it, while more has been done to protect a few feet of stencilled spray paint than the respiratory health of tens of thousands of people. Only in Wales can a piece of graffiti be turned into a personal and political crisis, while the bigger issue is nothing more than a footnote.
It’s unclear yet whether this spectacular missing of the point is itself to be interpreted as a piece of performance art.
Those taking part unwittingly are otherwise honest salt of the earth folk who wanted to see a work by a world-reknowned artist.
But they’re also likely to heavily overlap with the constituent population who think “Every Breath You Take” is a good song to play at a wedding, people who take selfies up Pen-y-Fan and those who have at least one “Live, Laugh, Love” derivative somewhere in their home. Watching paint dry sounds right up their street.
Many street artists, however, don’t couch their message in such subtle imagery, with another piece of graffiti causing a stir elsewhere in Wales.
Some believe the rechristening of a bridge at Hensol may be a veiled reference to the Welsh Secretary, Alun Cairns – but this has been denied by the Conservatives who point to the spelling mistake.
An art expert rebuffed their denials, suggesting the artist, “has a vague idea of who the person is but holds them in such deep contempt that they can’t even be bothered to spell their name correctly”. It’s understood the artist is working on a sequel called, “Chris Greyling is a f**king idiot” but this was brushed off as idle speculation.
This important piece of political art wasn’t protected. There was no perspex screen. Art dealers weren’t clamouring to take it away. Yet the message is as important and hard-hitting to Wales as anything Banksy could do.
The work is currently being authenticated. Preliminary estimates value it as effectively worthless and unable to make even a negligible positive impact on the Welsh economy.
“Yup,” said the expert, “definitely the Welsh Secretary.”