Banksy Snorting Copper

Banksy created two versions of a Policeman crouching down and snorting a white line on the streets of London. It was quickly referred to as ‘Snorting Copper’ and this name appears to have stuck.

Banksy Snorting Copper – Leake Street, Waterloo

Banksy Snorting Copper, Waterloo
Banksy Snorting Copper

The one at the South Bank side entrance to the Leake Street tunnel running underneath Waterloo station was installed in around 2005 – several years prior to Banksy taking over the entire road for his Cans Festival in 2008. In fact, it was still in place for the opening of the festival but by this time it had started to fade and it had lost its connection to its white line by this point. The policeman was eventually painted over as this wall was smartened up as the areas where graffiti was allowed / not allowed were more formally defined.

The white line from the Snorting Copper extended for some distance, trailing from the piece past the London Eye on the South Bank several hundred metres away. It appears it was created by Banksy drizzling white paint as he made the journey from one end o another. As this was on all on well-trodden and cleaned pavements it quickly disappeared.

The Waterloo version of Snorting Copper appears in Wall and Piece along with the explanatory text “There are no exceptions to the rule that everyone thinks that they are the exception to the rule”.

Banksy Snorting Copper – Curtain Road, Shoreditch

Banksy Snorting Copper
Banksy Snorting Copper, Curtain Road, Shoreditch

Another version of the Snorting Copper appeared in Curtain Road, Shoreditch around the same time. It used the exact same stencil of a cop appearing to be searching for clues but apparently instead getting ready to hoover up a line of white powder.

It lasted for several years, taking repeated batterings from nearby artworks, street cleaners, and was eventually completed blasted off the wall with the surface being taken back to near brick. The corner it stood on was covered up for a while before something strange happened.

Banksy removed artwork
The Banksy Snorting Copper ended up being blasted off the wall with the grey layer it was painted on being completely removed

The whole wall it was on was removed and it was sent off to be restored. It’s at this point things begin to seem a little suspect. Considering there was nothing left of the stencil on the wall the only thing that existed was the original bare brick structure. In 2017 a ‘miracle’ happened as a completely restored version of the artwork appeared back in the same location, this time behind glass as part of a new development. I’m no expert on fine art restoration but I would argue that this is a recreation rather than a restoration . Despite this numerous news articles appeared claiming it was now a £1m artwork and it looks probably even more pristine and neat and tidy than when it was first done. Hmm….

Banksy's snorting copper restored
Restored Snorting Copper