Artist Hijacks London’s Eerily Empty Tourist Sites With Tribute To Frontline Workers

Brightly colored street benches are being left around London in honor of workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Artist Paul Insect this week deposited five benches — each painted in the colors of the rainbow — at tourist sites across the capital as a tribute to those “who have kept England running” amid the lockdown, reported ITV News.

Photographs that Insect shared to Instagram on Wednesday showed the furniture in situ at usually bustling hot spots that, because of the public health crisis, are now mostly deserted.

“London has never looked so good as it does now”, said Insect, who collaborated on the project with the Block London furniture company.

“The streets are clean and the views are unbroken by people,” the artist said in a statement to HuffPost. “A perfect time to be exploring your city wherever you are, of course with the correct social distancing.”

The benches had been intended to “become a place for people to pause and reflect on the past couple of months as our cities begin to slowly open up again,” Insect said. 

Paul Insect

However, Insect on Thursday morning shared video of what appeared to be security guards removing one of the benches he’d placed near City Hall.

“It seems like London did not like the benches I left. As they have all disappeared,” he wrote on Instagram.

It was unclear who was responsible for the removal of the bench, or if the other benches were also taken. Insect’s publicist did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for further information.

Paul Insect

Paul Insect

More than 37,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the United Kingdom, the second-highest death toll in the world following the U.S., where it topped 100,000 on Wednesday.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced widespread criticism over his handling of the outbreak. He initially downplayed the threat but later became infected and was hospitalized for a week.

Johnson eased restrictions earlier this month, but was accused of sending mixed messages. He is now embroiled in a scandal over his top adviser, Dominic Cummings, who he has refused to fire despite his flouting of lockdown rules.

Check out more photographs of Insect’s benches here:

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