A possible new mural by Banksy has appeared on the side of a house in the southern UK city of Bristol. The piece shows a woman in a headscarf sneezing, with her dentures flying several feet out of her mouth and a graphic spray of saliva following them. She is doubled over by the force of the sneeze and has lost her grip on her purse and cane.
Two days after Brits began to receive the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, the piece seems to issue a gross reminder that, one step toward herd immunity notwithstanding, citizens ought to continue to wear their masks to avoid spreading the deadly virus via droplets, or in this case gobs, of saliva.
Banksy’s studio did not immediately respond to a request to confirm or deny the artwork’s authorship. The piece does not appear on the artist’s website, nor on the official Instagram account, where the studio usually identifies new works.
Dale Comley, an engineer who lives on the street where the piece was spotted, was making coffee at about 7 a.m. this morning when he spotted a man he describes only as “bulky” and, ironically, wearing a high-visibility jacket, staring at the wall, he tells the BBC.
If it does turn out to have been the anonymous artist, says Comley, he will be “just gutted I didn’t pay more attention at the time,” when he took the man to be simply “a really keen scaffolder.”
Vale Street, where the piece appeared, is already a notable spot owing to its 22-degree incline, making it the steepest street in Britain, and crowds have now begun to gather to admire the work. If it is indeed by Banksy, it will be the artist’s second virus-themed public work. On July 14, the artist’s Instagram account posted a video showing a masked man stenciling rats on the London underground train, some wearing masks.
In April, responding to an age in which millions of workplaces are closed due to the pandemic, he posted an image of an unkempt bathroom with rats generally making a mess, captioned “My wife hates it when I work from home.”