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Banksy picture to be unveiled in Folkestone

Artwork by celebrated street artist Banksy which became the subject of a custody battle is to be unveiled in a Kent seaside town on Friday.

His picture called Art Buff is being installed in Folkestone's Old High Street and will launch a new project celebrating creativity.

The eye-catching Banksy is making a comeback
The eye-catching Banksy is making a comeback

The painting, which shows a woman gazing at an empty plinth, originally appeared in the town in 2014 with Banksy offering the work as part of the Folkestone triennial, 'Kind Of'.

But it was subjected to graffiti and only six weeks later it was removed and sent to America, where it went on auction in Miami, with any proceeds planned to go to the charity set up in aid of Folkestone businessman Jimmy Godden who died in March 2012.

After it failed to sell, a lengthy legal wrangle began between the Creative Foundation and the Godden family - whose Dreamland Leisure company runs the amusement arcade where the mural appeared.

It resulted in the painting's custody being placed in the ownership of the Creative Foundation, now Creative Folkestone, in 2015, who brought it back to the town and placed the valuable work in storage.

Now it has been dusted off, ready for display again in the courtyard of 69 Old High Street. The exhibit has also inspired the charity to launch a new art project to celebrate creativity and community called The Plinth.

The Banksy Art Buff has been in storage for four years
The Banksy Art Buff has been in storage for four years

It will feature 10 vacant plinths, one performance plinth and three artist commissioned plinths placed in unique locations across Folkestone.

People will be invited to use the plinths to display their own lockdown creations, special mementos or hidden talents as part of a celebration of one town's creativity.

Alongside the empty plinths, there are also three specially commissioned plinths with works by local artists Malcolm Allen, Maureen Jordan and Tomas Poblete.

In addition, there will be a performance plinth painted on the floor of Payers Park by street artist Toze One. The performance plinth will host a curated programme of music, dance and spoken word.

Creative Folkestone chief executive Alastair Upton said: "By returning the Banksy to the Creative Quarter and presenting The Plinth we hope that we can inspire others to get creative this autumn.

"After everything that has happened this year we are proud to be offering space for people to get creative once again.

"Folkestone loved the Banksy, with the woman pondering the empty plinth. I can’t wait to see what people place there for her and everyone else to see."

He says the project will be a creative boost for the town which has seen Covid-19 close its Quarterhouse theatre and arts centre and postpone the Folkestone Triennial.

Since then, Creative Folkestone has adapted its approach to continue delivering a creative programme and The Plinth will offer a unique opportunity providing a space to showcase artistic talent, display meaningful objects and share ideas.

The project will run from Friday, September 18 to Sunday, November 8.

To find out more, or to follow the project, visit www.creativefolkestone.org.uk

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