The most controversial Banksy pieces after £6m 'Valentine's Day Mascara' mural is moved to London exhibition

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From comments on child labour, to attacks on the Catholic church - Banksy isn't one to hold back...

Banksy's art has become some of the most recognisable of the 21st century as the enigmatic artist's popularity has boomed. But as with all art, it is open to interpretation and perspective.

The artist's reputation means his works cost a fortune to get hold of - almost regardless of what they depict - but some can undoubtedly be said to be more controversial than others.

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For example, there's the Valentine's Day Mascara piece - a comment on domestic abuse as it depicts a 1950s housewife, with a swollen eye and missing tooth, wearing an apron and yellow washing-up gloves as she is throwing a man into a chest freezer.

In August, it was announced that the piece would go on sale through 27,000 shares priced at £120 each, which were made available on the marketplace Showpiece.

Earlier this week, it was placed in the foyer of The Art of Banksy exhibition in Regent Street, central London, where the public can see it for free. It first appeared on the side of a house in Margate on Valentine's Day before being moved to the seaside town’s Dreamland amusement park.

'Valentine's Day Mascara' on the side of a building in Margate, Kent (PA)'Valentine's Day Mascara' on the side of a building in Margate, Kent (PA)
'Valentine's Day Mascara' on the side of a building in Margate, Kent (PA) | Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

But the Valentine's Day Mascara is far from Banksy's only controversial piece. All of these listed below also make that list for a host of different reasons.

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Cardinal Sin

As an artist who frequently takes the fight to established institutions, many may have still winced when Banksy's 2011 piece attacking the Catholic church was unveiled.

The piece was first seen at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool in light of the child abuse scandal that was rocking the Catholic church at the time.

Banksy re-designed a replica of an 18th-century stone bust of a priest and replaced the face with pixelated tiles - helping to paint the impression of a suspected criminal whose identity is being hidden.

Cardinal Sin, a work by artist Banksy on display at the Walker Art Gallery on February 9, 2012 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)Cardinal Sin, a work by artist Banksy on display at the Walker Art Gallery on February 9, 2012 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Cardinal Sin, a work by artist Banksy on display at the Walker Art Gallery on February 9, 2012 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) | Getty Images

If the design wasn’t enough, the tagline “it’s easy to forget the true meaning of Christianity – lies, corruption, abuse” is seen as a hugely controversial attack on what Christianity means to many

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Brexit mural

Brexit is a term that remains as divisive today as it did in the immediate years after the referendum. So when Banksy unveiled a mural in Dover in 2017 of a European Union flag - the comment he was trying to make was clear to see.

The mural depicts a metalworker chipping away at a star on the EU flag - the broken star meant as a representation of Britain departing the EU after the 2016 referendum.

As the stars on the EU flag are meant to represent unity, solidarity and harmony, Banksy is making his feelings clear here, although all may not agree with him.

A mural by British graffiti artist Banksy, depicting a workman chipping away at one of the stars on a European Union (EU) themed flag, is pictured in Dover, south east England on May 8, 2017.  (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)A mural by British graffiti artist Banksy, depicting a workman chipping away at one of the stars on a European Union (EU) themed flag, is pictured in Dover, south east England on May 8, 2017.  (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)
A mural by British graffiti artist Banksy, depicting a workman chipping away at one of the stars on a European Union (EU) themed flag, is pictured in Dover, south east England on May 8, 2017. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

Girl With Balloon

One of Banksy’s most popular paintings which has now quite literally been reduced to shreds - just as Banksy intended.

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The mural of a little girl reaching for a heart-shaped balloon is meant to represent ideas such as love, hope and innocence.

In 2018, the piece self-destructed moments after selling for more than £1m.

 Sotheby's employees pose with  'Girl with Balloon' shredded through the bottom of the frame as it was sold. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images) Sotheby's employees pose with  'Girl with Balloon' shredded through the bottom of the frame as it was sold. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Sotheby's employees pose with 'Girl with Balloon' shredded through the bottom of the frame as it was sold. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Banksy had installed a shredder into the frame prior to the auction and the shocked Sotheby’s crowd watched on as the painting slowly shredded into a dozen strips.

This Banksy stunt was one of the most memorable moments in auction history and offered a poignant criticism of the sky-high prices his works fetched by the wealthy.

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In true ironic fashion, some experts say the piece is worth even more now!

I remember when all this was trees

This one comes from overseas in 2010. While in Detroit, Banksy decided to deliver a message on the city's ongoing social and economic issues.

As the US automobile industry has shifted to new hubs, the city has suffered economically over several decades.

He painted the words “I remember when all this was trees” in red letters beside a young boy who confronts the viewer, holding a paint can and brush.

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Located on the side of a derelict building outside of the deteriorated Packard Plant; the creation highlighted how after mass deforestation and loss of nature, Detroit has devolved to dust and is nothing like it ever was. The irony is here for all to see

Slave Labour

A visitor walks in fronf of a British street artist Banksy's murals "Slave Labour" (L) and "No Ball Games" (R) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)A visitor walks in fronf of a British street artist Banksy's murals "Slave Labour" (L) and "No Ball Games" (R) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)
A visitor walks in fronf of a British street artist Banksy's murals "Slave Labour" (L) and "No Ball Games" (R) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

While the UK was celebrating the London 2012 Olympics, Banksy was on hand to dampen the mood with arguably some of his most important work that put the spotlight on sweatshops.

Slave Labour was spray-painted on the side of a Poundland in Wood Green. It shows a young child using a sewing machine to produce Union Jack flags.

The mural serves as a reminder of the alleged inhumane measures taken to produce mass merchandise for the Queen’s diamond jubilee and the London Olympics.

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Dismaland

A steward is seen outside Banksy's 'Dismaland' exhibition,  in Weston-Super-Mare, England.(Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)A steward is seen outside Banksy's 'Dismaland' exhibition,  in Weston-Super-Mare, England.(Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
A steward is seen outside Banksy's 'Dismaland' exhibition, in Weston-Super-Mare, England.(Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Back in 2015, Banksy moved away from murals for a bit to give us an experience piece.

He built an eerie amusement park in Somerset called Dismaland which people could visit for £3.

It featured intriguing exhibits like a carriage-crashed Princess Cinderella, a warped version of the mermaid-queen Ariel and a refugee boat game.

The pop-up exhibition acted as a reality check and encouragement to take a real look at the world we live in, instead of the Disney perspective.

All of the building materials used to create Dismaland were recycled into shelters for homeless migrants

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