Workers have carefully begun the task of moving a painted Banksy mural from the side of a steelworker’s garage in South Wales.
The Season’s Greetings mural, which appeared in Taibach, Port Talbot, last year, will be relocated to a new art museum in the town’s centre.
On Tuesday, civil engineer experts started drilling into the two external walls of the garage, which has already been covered in resin to stop it from cracking.
The Banksy artwork will be lifted from the remaining part of the garage by crane on Wednesday.
A police escort is expected to then accompany a lorry carrying the mural to the new art gallery at Ty’r Orsaf, a former police station recently developed into a mixed-use retail unit.
The stencil, which shows a child dressed for snow playing in the falling ash and smoke from a skip fire, is thought to be a comment on pollution from the industrial town’s steel works.
It was discovered on the side of a garage owned by steelworker Ian Lewis, 55, in December.
Mr Lewis said at the time that it was like “Christmas had come early” but admitted he struggled to cope with the publicity surrounding the elusive artist’s work, as crowds gathered to see it.
Hollywood actor Michael Sheen, who grew up nearby, even contributed towards the security costs of protecting the artwork.
Essex-based art dealer John Brandler, 63, purchased the piece for an undisclosed “six-figure sum” in January before agreeing to allow it to be displayed for the public in Port Talbot for a minimum of three years.
Councillor Rob Jones, Neath Port Talbot Council leader, said: “Banksy’s artwork has certainly brought a lot of publicity for Neath Port Talbot since it arrived and we now hope many people will enjoy viewing it in its new setting.
“We are pleased to be working in partnership with the Welsh government, Pobl and Mr Brandler on this, and our thanks go to our local civil engineering experts Andrew Scott Ltd for taking on the job of moving this piece of art which, thanks to the publicity surrounding it, is known throughout the world.
“Neath Port Talbot, with its dramatic mix of scenery including hillsides, seaside, waterfalls and industry, plus its many famous actors, now has another feather in its cap and we look forward to exploring the many educational and economic development opportunities that the Banksy appearing here has given the area.”
David Williams, from Andrew Scott, said the company was “proud to be associated with the move” and that he was pleased to see the mural staying in the town.