Banksy art collector: Brentwood gallery owner talks Port Talbot, the upcoming street art museum and the artist himself
PUBLISHED: 13:07 25 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:12 25 March 2019
Enjoy Brentwood More speaks to Brentwood’s very own Banksy art collector after purchasing the Season’s Greetings mural in Port Talbot, Wales.
Buzzing with energy, the High Street comes alive everyday with shoppers parading up and down the pavements, restaurants inviting customers to taste their tongue-tantalising dishes and a traditional, friendly market at the heart of it all.
But if you were to venture out of the epicentre of Brentwood just a little, on the outskirts in a quiet and mostly residential street, you will find a treasure trove like no other.
For here you can see some of the works of international mystery street artist Banksy.
John Brandler, owner of Brandler Galleries, Coptfold Road, has been collecting his artwork for 16 years, displaying the pieces at his business which has been open for almost four decades.
“I started collecting more of his [Banksy’s] work because I like his sense of humour”, he said.
“He’s not afraid to make fun of the establishment and at times himself to get a point across.
“I like the fact that he gets people talking about issues that we are facing today, whether it’s on pollution, government, war, social media - he highlights problems of the world through his work.”
John gained his love of collecting from his grandfather who was an auctioneer, so it was no surprise when he started dealing in antique furniture while he was still at school.
By the time he turned 25, John had items from around the world including St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, the Vatican and Notre Dame.
But it was when he attended a house sale and bought a painting by 20th century artist Carel Weight for £10 and met other collectors, that Mr Brandler knew he wanted to be part of the art world and has been collecting masterpieces ever since.
He said: “Banksy’s are probably the most popular art that I collect but he isn’t my favourite.
“One of the most skilled artists I have ever come across is a man called My Dog Sighs.
“He can do anything from painting a 2in circular end of a tin can, right the way through to painting the side of a building that’s nine storeys high which he did recently in China.
“So he is the most incredibly skilled artist but he isn’t the best at marketing whereas Banksy is better at marketing.”
At the beginning of the year, John bought Banksy’s latest mural Season’s Greetings in Wales, which shows a boy, who believes he is catching snowflakes on his tongue, when he is actually eating ash from a dumpster fire that is painted on the other side of the garage wall.
The mural, which is painted in Port Talbot, home to one of the largest steelworks plants in Europe, was sold for a six-figure sum.
Following his purchase, John is now working on opening an international street art museum in Port Talbot where the works of artists such as Banksy, Ben Eine, Pure Evil and The Connor Brothers will be displayed.
Mr Brandler hopes the museum will open this summer.
He said: “The piece in Port Talbot spoke to me - it’s very powerful in its message against pollution and the affect its having worldwide.
“It’s incredibly structured as well. If you look at it up close, you see the boy with his sleigh, sticking his tongue out to catch the snowflakes.
“If you look around the corner, you see that the snowflakes are actually ash from the dumpster fire.
“But when you step further back, you can see the chimneys from the industrial site in the background, creating the bigger picture - it’s incredibly clever.
“If it was up to me, it [the museum] would have been opened yesterday but there’s a lot to be done.
“This isn’t just going to be a museum for those in the UK, it’s going to be an international museum that hundreds of thousands of people will visit.
“I’m looking forward to see it all come together.”
But just who is Banksy? Mr Brandler says he knows his true identity but his lips are sealed.
He joked: “I can’t say, I’ll be taken to court!”Visit here