The internet was abuzz late Sunday afternoon with talk of a possible new stencil artwork from British artist Banksy. A number of various cropped images of the new work began to surface on instagram following the story of the new Banksy piece breaking on the Guardian website shortly after 6pm Sunday 24th. Further confirmation of the pieces authenticity soon followed in the form or an image of the work appearing on the instagram account of Banksy's publicist, Jo Brooks.
The stencilled Banksy 'Les Misérables' work appeared overnight on Saturday and is located in West London directly opposite the French Embassy building in Knightsbridge. Spray painted onto boarded up windows of an empty shop unit, the new work sees Banksy criticising the use of teargas in the 'Jungle' refugee camp in the vicinity of Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are currently living while they attempt to cross into the United Kingdom.
The artwork itself of a young girl, Cosette is based on an engraving by French illustrator Émile Bayard created for the first edition of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables in 1886. The iconic image which has become emblematic of the entire Les Misérables story, has gone through a number of updates over the decades and has seen it being used in promotional artworks for various versions of the musical. Banksy's update of the Cosette image sees her with tears running down her face as the clouds of CS gas from the canister on the ground rise up and engulf her.
The work also features a first for Banksy and makes use of a QR code stencilled next to the work. When scanned with a QR reader on your smart phone it links to the seven-minute Youtube clip below of a police raid which was filmed at the 'Jungle' refugee camp early in January and clearly shows teargas being used by the French authorities.
The interactive component of Banksy's artwork includes a stencilled QR code which when scanned on your phone with a QR readers directs you to the Youtube video posted below.
The open CS teargas canister on the ground.
Daytime shot of the Banksy stencil work with some damage to the corners of the work where attempts have been made to remove the work by those hopping to profit from the artist street pieces.