Banksy confirms escaping prisoner artwork at Reading jail

Banksy confirms escaping prisoner artwork at Reading jail

Street artist Banksy has confirmed he was behind the artwork that appeared on the wall of Reading Prison on Monday.

The picture shows a prisoner – possibly resembling famous inmate Oscar Wilde – escaping on a rope made of bedsheets tied to a typewriter.

It comes as campaigners continue to lobby for the former jail to be turned into an arts hub rather than being sold for housing.

The guerilla artist has confirmed the work was his own on his website.

The jail famously housed Wilde between 1895 and 1897 and was immortalised by his poem Ballad of Reading Gaol during his stay, which reflected on the brutality of the Victorian penal system.

He was convicted after his affair with Lord Alfred Douglas was exposed.

The prison has been derelict since 2013 and was put up for sale by the government in 2019.

However, a deal to sell the Grade II-listed building to developers fell through last year and Reading council said it hoped to revive its bid to turn it into an arts complex.

Hollywood actors Sir Kenneth Branagh, Natalie Dormer and Dame Judi Dench are among the stars who have lent their support to the campaign.

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