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Street artist Banksy – whose most expensive work was auctioned for a jaw-dropping $1.7 million – surprised primary schoolchildren in England by painting a mural on the side of one of their classrooms over the term break.
The 14ft piece, showing a child with a stick chasing a burning tire, was discovered at Bridge Farm Primary School in Bristol just before 7am on Monday when teachers and other staff arrived.
The artwork appeared after the school held a competition to name its four houses, and settled on the local figures of Brunel, Cabot, Blackbeard and Banksy. The children at the school then wrote to Banksy to tell him they had decided to name a house after him.
Then, over half term, the artwork appeared.
Site manager Jason Brady found the mural, which has been confirmed as genuine, with a letter in an envelope addressed "Dear Caretaker".
In the letter, Banksy wrote: "Dear Bridge Farm School, Thanks for your letter and naming a house after me.
"Please have a picture. If you don't like it feel free to add stuff, I'm sure the teachers won't mind.
"Remember – it's always easier to get forgiveness than permission. Much love, Banksy."
Geoff Mason, who has been headmaster of the 550-student school for the past 15 years, said he was "thrilled" by the piece.
Banksy works in mysterious ways
"I received a phone call this morning just before 7am to inform me that we had a new addition to the school in the form of a piece of artwork by Banksy," Mr. Mason said.
"I arrived to find this beautiful mural painted by Banksy. It was a complete surprise but I am thrilled."
Mr. Mason said he had invited the graffiti artist to the school, but was completely unaware of the artist's plans to visit over the weekend.
"We really just wrote to him just to let him know and to invite comment really. We certainly didn't expect something like this, so it is fantastic. Banksy works in mysterious ways – it was an open invitation for him to get in touch with the school or come on-site.
"It's brilliant for us and brilliant for the school community."
The artwork appeared on the side of the Reception year classroom, situated opposite the school's playing field.
The school is planning to erect a protective film over the piece to prevent it from being damaged, while security staff will also patrol the site.
Mr. Mason added: "We are working with Bristol City Council, who own the building, as we would like to preserve and protect the artwork.
"Banksy is a world-renowned artist so obviously we would like to safeguard it and enjoy it over the years to come."
A spokeswoman for Banksy confirmed the artwork is genuine.