Banksy’s Snorting Copper in Shoreditch Rediscovered

One of Banksy’s most famous paintings. An image of a policeman on his hands and knees snorting the road markings as if they are a line of cocaine has been re-discovered. Known as the Snorting Copper it once graced a toilet block on Curtain Road in Shoreditch.

Created in 2005 the work was painted over by Hackney Council in 2006. Since then it’s lain hidden away under layers of paint. Something which, however ironic, has actually ended up preserving the piece.

Banksy's restored Snorting Copper
Banksy’s snorting policeman has been restored

Forgotten on a Toilet Block

Forgotten about for years, Banksy’s Snorting Copper remained hidden on a wall of a disused toilet block on Curtain Road in Shoreditch, only coming to light as the land it was on was snapped up for redevelopment by Hamilton Court Developments. A familiar pattern in Shoreditch these days, the intention was to turn this once derelict slip of land into flats.

Hearing that there might still be a Banksy hidden on one of the old decaying walls, the company arranged for it to be removed and sent up to Cumbria for a painstaking restoration from one of the country’s leading restorers. There brick by brick the paint was removed, eventually uncovering the famous piece.

Close up of the Snorting Copper by Banksy
The snorting policeman by Banksy gives a furtive glance

Snorting Copper by Banksy Revealed

Hosting the big reveal at a soiree in what will one day be a vestibule of the new building built onto the site. The section of wall, initially wrapped in black plastic was the undoubted star of the show. Silent and unassuming it waited there amongst art aficionados, sipping cocktails and chomping on horderves, eager to see just how well the restoration had been done.

In the end, the result is remarkable! Looking just as it would have done the day it was covered, the section of wall even still includes a tag from a different artist still visible on the top left hand side. The copper himself is of course clearly identifiable, casting a furtive glance, as if been caught in the act. This is classic Banksy with his identifiably black and white single layered stencil style, which once would have been a familiar sight around the streets of Shoreditch.

The Banksy piece which recently appeared nearby on Golden Lane

Banksy in London

Recently of course another Banksy has appeared not too far away on Golden Lane close to the Barbican. That piece, a homage to Jean-Michel Basquiat, also features a policeman and woman. This time playing stop and search on an image of Basquiat himself. The image is a popular one which Banksy has used a number of times.

A little bit further up the road on Rivington Street in the courtyard of Cargo is another Banksy. That image covered in perspex is of a policeman holding a poodle instead of a labrador. It has the words ‘designated graffiti area’ stencilled in the background. It’s slightly older, from 2001 but very similar in style to the snorting copper. Then there’s the kissing policemen in Brighton, something that remains a huge draw despite the piece actually being a replica.

banksy kissing policemen
A replica of Banksy’s Kissing Policemen in Brighton is still a draw for tourists

Fuss over Street Art

So now Shoreditch has another Banksy. The plan is for the snorting copper to be placed back in it’s original position. Albeit behind glass but still visible to the public only now incorporated as part of the modern building. The restoration has been nothing short of remarkable. A piece which is a part of graffiti and street art history has been made available again. Who knows what Banksy himself might think of all the fuss. Maybe he doesn’t care or maybe, just maybe, he might just give himself a rye smile. Knowing that his tongue in cheek satirical stencil from back in the day has found a new lease of life.

Banksy’s Snorting Copper was revealed at 115 Curtain Road on 5 October 2017. It was restored on behalf of Hamilton Court Developments and will form part of the development on the site. The restoration was completed by the ‘Fine Art Restoration Company’ in Cumbria.

Banksy Snorting Copper Gallery

The Snorting Copper by Banksy rediscovered and put on display
The mayor of Hackney speaking to the press just after the Banksy is revealed
‘It’s All Good Baby’ DJ playing tunes at the unveiling
The wall covered in black plastic before the unveiling
It’s eventual location at 115 Curtain Road
The crowd taking pictures of the unveiling
Fancy cocktails
The snorting copper by Banksy revealed
The wall and the snorting copper itself


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