Banksy artwork appears at Reading Gaol

March 2, 2021

Following Sir Kenneth Branagh, Dame Judi Dench, Natalie Dormer and Shazad Latif’s support for the campaign to Save Reading Gaol, we were thrilled to wake up on Monday morning to learn that Banksy had visited Reading.

And it is brilliant.

The artwork has been confirmed by Banksy himself via his Instagram feed and he has even posted a rare, behind-the-scenes video of the artwork being created.

At first sight, you’ll be forgiven for thinking it’s simply a convict doing what convicts do; climbing down a wall on tied bedsheets with a heavy-looking bit of swag. But, look closer and you’ll notice that the sheets are not cotton but writing paper, and the swag is not cash, but Oscar Wilde’s Typewriter.

Whether it signifies Wilde’s spirit finally escaping the prison, or reminding the world that Reading has an incredible, internationally significant, opportunity to honour Wilde, is for us all to ponder… But it has certainly shone the spotlight on our campaign to Save Reading Gaol.

Toby Davies, Director of RABBLE Theatre has been interviewed by a number of media outlets about the confirmation of the Banksy artwork, including notible appearances in the Evening Standard and BBC National News.

In his interview for BBC News, Toby said,

“It’s fantastic!

“It adds real kudos to the whole campaign to have someone who knows a thing or two about culture take a risk and come and do this on a Ministry of Justice building.

“It is phenomenal, it really displays how much it means to people.

“Whenever I speak to people, not just those in the culture world but those who walk past it every single day, they get very emotional about it.”

He added: “Reading has never had the opportunity to have a go at an international culture centre that brings people together.

“It should be a bubbling centre of UK culture but it isn’t and that’s because we’ve never been given a chance.

“If there was ever a chance then this is it and it won’t come again.”

You can read the full article on the BBC News website here.


(This page was updated 5th March 2021, after the artwork was confirmed by Banksy).