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Melbourne Banksy exhibition a ‘major coup’ for city, says mayor

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Robert Doyle welcomes announcement that city to host Art of Banksy, the largest-ever exhibition in Australia of the elusive British street artist’s work.

Melbourne’s mayor has welcomed the announcement of the biggest-ever exhibition of Banksy’s work to be held in Australia – just months after original pieces by the artist were removed by construction workers.

The Art of Banksy exhibition, which was curated by the notoriously elusive artist’s one-time agent, will open at The Paddock in Melbourne’s Federation Square on 7 October and run for more than three months, closing on 22 January.

It will be a different offering to previous exhibitions in Istanbul and the Netherlands, with more than 80 works on display in Melbourne, including some of his most recognisable pieces: Girl with Balloon, Flag Wall and Laugh Now.

Several are from the private collection of Steve Lazarides, Banksy’s former manager and now independent gallery owner, who curated the exhibition with no involvement of the artist.

The two parted ways in 2008 in unexplained circumstances, after working together for about a decade. Lazarides told Vanity Fair in 2010 that he had not spoken to the artist “in a long time” and had no idea where he was.

“It was an amazing ride and I wouldn’t be here without it, but I don’t necessarily miss it,” he said.

But in March this year, Lazarides told the Independent he had seen the artist at a Massive Attack gig the week prior, “but maintained a healthy distance”.

The relationship between the two seems to have been somewhat strained by Lazarides’s ongoing promotion of his former talent’s work.

In 2014, Lazarides curated an “unauthorised retrospective” of Banksy’s work at Sotheby’s auction house in Mayfair, with most of the pieces on display for sale at prices up to £500,000.

He told the Guardian that Banksy’s representatives were “not pleased”, even though the artist profited from the show.

Works by other street artists, food trucks and live entertainment will circle the exhibition in Melbourne.

Tickets are already on sale through Ticketek, starting at $30 for adults and $25 concession.

Lazarides said in a statement that 40 other private collectors had also contributed pieces to the “one-off” event for Australia.

“Never will you be able to see this amount of work in one place again. Once the show is over, the artwork will dissipate back to the other 40 collectors around the world and the likelihood of them being brought together again in the future is very slim.”

Robert Doyle, the mayor of Melbourne, said the exhibition was a “major coup” for the city, which is known the world over for its street art, including original works by Banksy himself.

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