Malvern's 'Banksy' street artists chose to come forward after run-in with police

Ledbury Reporter: John Anyon        10/3/14                  11145407

Banksy style graffiti in the bus shelter in Malvern town centre by entrance to Rose Bank Gardens (4496765) John Anyon 10/3/14 11145407 Banksy style graffiti in the bus shelter in Malvern town centre by entrance to Rose Bank Gardens (4496765)

AN early hours run-in with the police prompted the men behind Malvern's Banksy-style Edward Elgar street art to break their cover.

Lee Morris and Tom Brown originally intended their four images of the classical composer on the Wells Road bus shelter beneath the Rosebank Gardens in the Centre of Great Malvern to be a one-off anonymous gift to the town.

But as the pair, both 34, were caught red handed by the police at about 4am on Sunday, March 9 they felt it necessary to come forward as the creative culprits.

Mr Morris, who is a fine art printer, said: "It was fun until the very end. That moment has scarred me for life.

"The timing of them turning up was remarkable. If they turned up 30 seconds before we would not have done that last stencil and if it had been 30 seconds later we would have been finished and gone."

He added: "It was Tom's fault we got caught because when we were walking down he was singing Caught By the Fuzz by Supergrass."

Mr Brown, a regional sales manager for a software company, said they were wearing hi-vis jackets to make it appear they were carrying out official work.

"We had it all planned out and we hadn't told anybody. It was just me and Lee and that was as far as it went. We hope to do some legal artwork in the future and maybe put on an exhibition."

The police dealt with them by the way of a community resolution, which can be used as an informal agreement between the parties involved for minor offences or anti-social behaviour.

Following discussions with Malvern Town Council, who own the shelter, steps are being taken to secure the framed paintings to prevent them from being removed.

Mr Morris said: "I wanted to do a design that was going to be good for the community - what people would want and what symbolises Malvern. Edward Elgar is just that.

"I walk past that bus stop twice a day and I was looking at those three recesses and thought there just needs to be a picture on each of the alcoves. It's a blank canvass."

A spokesman for the town council confirmed the work was not commissioned but "in view of the positive response to this artwork" they might consider using some of the pair's work at other sites in the town.

"Both Mr Morris and Mr Brown said that they would like to issue an apology for not seeking approval from the council before putting the artwork in place and also added that they do not condone any form of unauthorised public graffiti."

He added: "Malvern Town Council will now consider adopting the artwork and the council has been urged by a number of Malvern residents to allow it to remain."

More than 100 hours of work went into producing the images which find Sir Edward nonchalantly standing next to the phone box holding a green smartphone in his hands along with three canvases depicting him waiting for a bus in bright and bold colours.

Mr Morris describes the public's reaction as "surreal" and now intends to sell the original artworks and put the money into the town's art community, while welcoming suggestions for future work.

Cllr Peter Smith, who represents the town council in the Priory ward, is proposing display cases are placed in bus stop's three arches to house artwork in a bid to respond to public support as well as improving the Victorian structure.

Cllr Smith said: "I have no criticism of the artists who have come up with an innovative idea presented in a civilised manner.

"Elgar would have approved of the mildly subversive prank or 'jape' as he would have called it. He for one knew about blinkered opinions and the energy sapping effect of bureaucracy."

For more information about the pair's work, go to weloveart.co.uk or e-mail hello@weloveart.co.uk.

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