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Sadiq Khan in ‘mankini’ street art judged ‘contentious’ and removed by council

Loretto mural taken down - again

06 July, 2018 — By Tom Foot and Jack Wright

Loretto’s mural of the Mayor 

STREET murals of the London mayor Sadiq Khan and prime minister Theresa May dressed provocatively have been removed after complaints they were “contentious”.

Displayed on the side of the Food Bazaar Café in Gray’s Inn Road in Holborn, private contractors Veolia removed the mural two weeks ago.

The stencil, painted by graffiti artist Loretto, showed the Mayor almost nude, emulating a strip dancer performing for a joyous crowd, with only a bow tie and “mankini” to protect his modesty.

Camden Council said it works on a scale that has graded the work “contentious”, a bracket that includes anything “obscene, racist, political and religious”.

Café owner Said Effafali, said the Loretto’s murals were good for his business, with “hundreds of people taking pictures”.

Mr Effafali said: “I explained to them [the council] that if one person complains, then 99 still like it.”

He said he believed the murals were removed because they displayed British officials.

“Art is not to everybody’s liking. Of course you’ll offend people, but a majority likes it.” He added: “We don’t know what’s not offensive any more.”

Mr Effafali said he received prior warning from the council of its removal via email this time around. Controversial murals have been a regular occurrence for Mr Effafali and his café this past year, with Loretto dressing the Queen in thigh-high stockings.

The new murals are believed to have been painted over the side of the building just before last Christmas.

A council statement said: “Following the appearance of the two large stencil works on the café wall in April this year, we received six reports of ‘offensive’ graffiti over a six-week period. A council officer visited the café owner several times over the following months to  discuss the stencil.

“Using the Keep Britain Tidy scale, the positioning of these has been graded as ‘unsatisfactory’, as they are clearly visible to people passing the location, and at a distance.”

– An exhibition of Loretto’s work is currently on display at the Graffik Gallery in Portobello Road, W11


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