Lifestyle

Banksy to buy prison and transform it into giant arts centre

Up close and personal with notorious artist

Banksy is no stranger to transforming streets into art, bursting with social and satirical messages to make us think as well as admire his work.

Now, he’s going the extra mile and using a prison as his backdrop to make a statement.

The artist, who to this day still remains anonymous, is planning to buy HM Reading Prison.

[Credit: Banksy]

Situated in Berkshire, just a stone’s throw from the infamous Reading Festival, the prison (formerly known as Reading Gaol) is famed for housing Oscar Wilde.

The poet and playwright was banged up in 1895 after his prosecution for gross indecency following a scandalous affair with a young aristocrat.

Ever since its closure in 2014, various council reps and property developers have set their sights on it to revamp the site into a cultural hub, theatre venue, and even a block of flats.

[Credit: Art of Banksy]

Yet it seems Banksy might be the one to finally get his hands on it, having pledged £12million towards buying the abandoned building.

He has already made his mark on the former young offenders institution, with a masterpiece appearing on one of the walls earlier this year.

In the scene, a prisoner is escaping on knotted bedsheets tied to a typewriter, which is thought to reference the ongoing campaign to save the jail as an arts hub, rather than becoming real estate.

[Credit: Art of Banksy]

Heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua also spent a spell behind bars at the prison in 2009, when he was put on remand for what he describes as “fighting and other crazy stuff”.

We really hope the history and stories of rehabilitation can be immortalised into an art hub soon!

In the meantime, you can check out The Art of Banksy in London, the world’s largest collection of privately owned Banksy artwork showcasing intriguing prints and canvases.   

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