Banksy’s Grim Reaper, Bristol

Banksy’s iconic image, the Grim Reaper, was removed from the side of the ship and nightclub Thekla by DHP family, in August 2014, to halt ongoing deterioration. It has found new ‘mooring’ nearby at the M-shed Museum in Bristol, and is now on public display, following a six month conservation programme undertaken by IFACS Ltd.

It was no mean feat moving the heavy piece of steel, weighing nearly 200 kg, from the M shed to our studios in Park Street. It took a fork lift, winches, and some strong men to transport it from door to door!

This was very much a collaborative project and we are thankful to all those involved, in particular Bristol Museum & Art Gallery’s staff and structural engineers Rank Engineering Ltd.

The artwork had been partially submerged in harbour water and suffered paint delamination, corrosion and build-up of silt as a result. Some of the damage was irretrievable, such as the loss of the boat. The spray paint was tested to ensure cleaning could be carried out without compromising Banksy’s original work. Paint delamination and active corrosion were stabilised and the silt kept as evidence of its earlier context.

As support, a steel structure was designed and built to keep the work upright. Low-reflective, laminated glazing was integral to the design to protect the image whilst on public display at M-shed.

It is worth visiting the Grim Reaper at the museum and taking a look at the Thekla’s accompanying information, images and videos.