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Banham Zoo’s mysterious ‘Suffolk Banksy’ to go to auction

A painting mysteriously left at the gates of Banham Zoo during lockdown has gone up for auction.

The artwork (pictured) is understood to have come from ‘The Hat’ – an elusive and unidentified artist the national press have dubbed ‘The Suffolk Banksy’.

Left under the cover of darkness during the first lockdown, the painting will go to auction tomorrow, with all proceeds going towards Banham Zoo’s fundraising campaign, ‘Wild About Survival’, which is set up to help the zoo stay on its feet following a devastating financial year.

The artwork, titled 'Anxiety' was left at the gates of Banham Zoo in the summer. (43455650)
The artwork, titled 'Anxiety' was left at the gates of Banham Zoo in the summer. (43455650)

Claudia Roberts, Managing Director at Banham Zoo, thanked the artist – who has sparked a wave of intrigue and speculation across the region after pulling off a number of similar stunts since the pandemic first struck.

“Thank you to ‘The Hat’ for such a kind and generous gesture during our time of need,” she said.

“[The painting] is a magnificent painting that would make a beautiful addition to any home or private collection.”

The painting’s title, 'Anxiety', was given to it by the artist, who left a note alongside the artwork when it was discovered this summer.

Ms Roberts added that the name was a fitting reminder of the troubles plaguing the zoo since the first lockdown.

“The painting’s name is quite apt given our circumstances over the last nine months,” she added.

“Even more so, as our ethos is to provide opportunities to increase social wellbeing through the proven connection between wellbeing, animals and nature”.

“By putting this painting up for auction, as requested by The Hat in their handwritten note, it means that a lucky member of the public can enjoy it from the comfort of their own home and we also get to raise vital funds. We are very grateful to The Hat, whoever they may be.”

It is widely speculated that the artist, who also donated two paintings to the East Anglia’s Children Hospices’ charity shop in Framlingham, Suffolk, during the summer, is in fact local boy and global superstar Ed Sheeran, although this claim is denied by his team.

Banham Zoo was forced to close in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and along with its sister zoo Africa Alive!, in Lowestoft, lost almost £2 million in visitor income.

Although the zoos reopened, the implementation of social distancing measures, limited visitor numbers, and the recent circuit breaker means the charity is still forecasting a drop in revenue.

The Wild About Survival campaign has managed to raise £50,000 so far, but Ms Roberts warned their is still much more needed to ensure the zoo’s survival.

She added: “We are delighted to have raised £50,000 so far through ‘Wild about Survival’, but we still have a mountain to climb.

“[We need] a minimum of £25,000 per week to care for more than 10,000 animals at both zoos; now with the added pressure of not receiving any income during two lockdowns."

The painting is being auctioned online at 10am on Saturday December 12 by Lacy Scott & Knight Auctioneers.

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