Banksy's Grim Reaper removed from Bristol's Thekla ahead of public display in museum

By Culture24 Reporter | 13 August 2014

Banksy's Grim Reaper has been removed from its nautical nightclub home and will set sail for a museum after conservation work

Click on the picture to launch the gallery

Painted onto the ship home of Bristol’s NME award-winning Thekla gig venue and nightclub, Banksy’s Grim Reaper was perhaps always at risk from the elements.

The boat’s current dry dock maintenance, which only happens once every eight years, has given blowtorch-bearing workmen the opportunity to remove the macabre figure, cutting it from the steel hull as part of an agreement which will see the work loaned to Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives and displayed at M Shed within “weeks or months”.

“We really wanted to make sure that, although it is being removed from its intended setting, people could still see it for free and will now get a better view of it,” says George Adkins, of music promoters DHP Family, the Thekla owners who hope it will “preserve the image” of a club known as the Old Profanity Swanboat when it opened in 1984.

“It is great that we have been able to work with Bristol City council to display this iconic Bristol artwork.

“To be clear, we have no intention of selling the Banksy – we just wanted to preserve the piece of art before it deteriorated too much. We wouldn’t have had another opportunity to do this for a further eight years.”

One interested observer, George Ferguson, the city’s Mayor, is looking forward to scrutinising the reaper.

“I have so enjoyed watching Banksy move from zero to hero,” he enthuses.

“His Grim Reaper has been one of Bristol harbour’s more familiar residents on the hull of the famous Thekla nightclub for the past 10 years or so.

“I would like to thank the DHP Family for entrusting the threatened work to the safe hands of the Bristol Museums team so it can now be preserved for future generations.”

Arena-filling bands including Foals and The xx have played on the boat since it was taken over by DHP in 2006. More than 240 plays, comedy and poetry gigs previously took place on board, when it also played a part in the emergence of Bristol’s famed drum and bass scene.

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JK Rowling to Banksy: Real and Imagined Lives at Bristol's M Shed

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