UPDATE 12/06/2021: banksy has offered to raise ten million pounds in order to buy reading prison and turn it into an art centre. BBC reported that a spokesperson told them ‘the pledge of the funds was dependent on the MoJ awarding the bid to reading borough council and the jail being turned into a centre for the arts.’


‘I had very little interest in reading until I was on a rail replacement bus service that went past the jail,’ said banksy. ’it’s rare to find an uninterrupted 500m-long paintable surface slap bang in the middle of a town; I literally clambered over the passenger next to me to get a closer look. I promised myself I’d paint the wall even before I knew what it was – I’m passionate about it now, though. oscar wilde is the patron saint of smashing two contrasting ideas together to create magic. converting the place that destroyed him into a refuge for art feels so perfect we have to do it.’



banksy has struck again, this time taking over the wall of england’s reading prison, an out-of-use institution which once held oscar wilde. the mural showcases an inmate making an escape over the jail’s wall, hanging from a rope made of knotted sheets attached to a typewriter.


banksy claimed the work on his website and instagram account on march 4th, releasing a video on youtube titled ‘create escape’. the nearly three minute long short film opens with a clip from the famous TV show of american painter and art instructor bob ross. in his signature soothing voice, ross goes on to narrate a variety of painting techniques to create an artwork about ‘freedom’, while simultaneously a video plays showing banksy working on the mural on site at night.

a suspected banksy mural has appeared on the walls of a prison in reading, england
images by zayyan amani



the jail hosted wilde as an inmate between 1895 and 1897 and the location was immortalized in the ballad of reading goal, a poem which reflected on the brutality of the penal system. the prison has been empty since 2014 but the new mural raises new questions on its future which might be that of turning it into an arts center.

a suspected banksy mural has appeared on the walls of a prison in reading, england



‘in the right hands, this gaol will evolve reading into an internationally recognized historical and cultural destination,’ toby davies, artistic director of reading’s rabble theater told the BBC. ‘dare I say it, it looks like banksy agrees.’


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project info:


name: banksy mural in reading prison

location: reading, UK