A Banksy mural of a gymnast has been today removed to be put on display after the bomb-damaged building where he painted it was demolished.
Images show workers unloading the part of the wall adorned with the artist’s graffiti, which was cut out from a heavily damaged residential building in Irpin, a town just to the northwest of the capital Kyiv.
Last month, Oleksandr Markushyn, the Mayor of Irpin, said an art installation will ‘probably be set up outside the building’.
The mural depicts a ribbon-waving gymnast wearing a neck brace balancing on a hole made by a Russian shell.
At the end of April, workers started to demolish the residential building in Irpin.
The town, along with Borodianka, also in Kyiv Oblast, and the capital, was hit hard by Russian shelling during the first month of the invasion.
In Irpin alone, more than 1,060 buildings were damaged. Some 115 of them were completely destroyed, the United Nations Satellite Centre reported.
Last month, Markushyn said that the work by the British artist will be removed from the building and preserved.
‘We will decide later whether it [the graffiti – ed.] will be [left] in this place or moved. But we want to preserve this image painted by Banksy. An art installation will probably be set up outside the building. We will do everything possible to keep [the graffiti here],’ he said on air during the national joint 24/7 newscast, according to Interfax-Ukraine.
Oksana Nechytailo, a member of Irpin City Council, reported on Facebook that the building in Irpin where Banksy created one of his Ukrainian works was to be demolished.
‘The demolition of building 160/1 on Severynivska Street will begin on Tuesday, 18 April. After that, roughly two weeks later, the demolition of building 158 will begin,’ she said at the time.
Nechytailo added: ‘Don’t worry about the painting by the world-famous artist Banksy which is on this building. The painting will be dismantled separately and preserved. This work of art is already a cultural asset of our neighbourhood.’
In November, Banksy confirmed to The Art Newspaper that he had created seven murals in various locations in Ukraine, including Kyiv, Irpin and Borodyanka.
He posted a video on November 17 with the revealed artworks, including the girl with the ribbon.
It also showed moving footage of daily life continuing in shell-damaged districts.
A few days earlier, the graffiti artist posted three images of a mural showing a gymnast performing a handstand in the wreckage left by Russian shelling, with the caption simply reading: ‘Borodyanka, Ukraine’.
Murals sighted in and around Ukraine’s capital had led to speculation that the artist was working in the war-torn country.
In December, the City Council of Irpin bestowed the title of its Honorary Citizen to Banksy.
The City Council website said: ‘Banksy left his graffiti on one of the houses ruined by ruscists in Irpin, thus drawing the world community’s attention to the scale of the destruction of Irpin and perpetuating the history of Irpin’s struggle and the idea of its revival with his creative work’.
A railway bridge that connected the once Russian-occupied towns of Irpin, Bucha and Borodyanka with Kyiv has now been rebuilt, providing a symbol of hope for communities affected by the conflict.
Banksy is one of the world’s most famous artists, while managing to retain his anonymity.
His stencilled designs around Bristol in the early 1990s saw him rise to fame.
Examples of his work have appeared all over the world and the ‘guerrilla street artist’ has tens of millions of fans, including A-list celebrities.