A somber Valentine’s Day artwork created by the British street artist Banksy in the seaside town of Margate in the United Kingdom was partially removed today, just hours after it had appeared.

Valentine’s Day Mascara” features a stereotypical 1950s housewife with a swollen eye and a missing front tooth. The woman appears to be tossing a man into a discarded fridge freezer on site. The work could be seen as an attempt to raise awareness of the issue of domestic abuse on the occasion of Valentine’s Day.

A particularly salient comment under Banksy’s post by Kirsten Engelbert reads, “Extra meaning to the phrase ‘dump him.'” 

In a statement, Thanet District Council told Hyperallergic that while the mural sits on private property, the fridge freezer, which council operatives removed for safety reasons, is on public land.

“The fridge freezer is now in storage and will be returned once it has been made safe to the public,” said a spokesperson for the council. “We will be contacting the owner of the property to discuss the options to preserve the artwork for the district.”

Banksy’s last Valentine’s Day-related mural appeared in 2020 in Bristol, UK, the alleged hometown of the elusive artist. That work was later vandalized with spray paint. Banksy seemed unperturbed by the work’s defacement. He commented on Instagram that he “was kind of glad” since he felt his initial sketches were better than his graffiti. 

Some Margate residents and Banksy fans are frustrated that the local government would disrupt the mural, which appears incomplete without the fridge freezer.

“Thanet Council should be ashamed [sic] destroying a #Banksy within 24hrs,” Twitter user Nicola Leach wrote, using an incensed emoji. “fastest response time in history.”

Taylor Michael is a former Hyperallergic staff reporter. Previously, she worked as a public programs coordinator at the National Book Foundation. She received an MFA from Columbia University School...