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Oakeley's House

Bye Bye Banksy

Bye Bye BanksyBanksy picture

Banksy is an extremely famous graffiti artist, political activist, film director and painter. He is said to be born in 1974 — but nothing is really known about him as he really could be anyone due to his well-kept anonymity.

His works are an illustration of dark humour done in a distinctive stencilling technique which most of us would recognise. As his satirical street art was born out of the Bristol underground scene you are all likely to know of his works, especially those close to home. Just down Park Street, this “Naked Man” image we all travel past is on the side of a sexual health clinic (typical Banksy) and was allowed to remain following popular support. But some people show much less support for this particular kind of artistic expression…

Banksy picture

In February 2007, railway bureaucrats ordered the removal of a sprayed monkey preparing to blow up a bunch of bananas — perhaps intended as a harmless cartoon, perhaps not — from a set of doors to an electricity generator near Waterloo station. The Network Rail spokesman admitted to the organisation deciding to paint over the image, stating that they “don’t want graffiti on our property and we will remove it, it’s ugly, illegal and the public don’t like it”. These doors are now a typical, unattractive and gloomy shade of magnolia and have begun to be covered with unintelligible, illegible graffiti tags. I’m pretty sure that the “public” like this much less. To make matters better for this set of doors, the monkey hasn’t been painted over very well; the new paint could have at least covered the whole door, we can still see the orange wire painted by Banksy. This renovation has covered up a piece of art that could have been worth thousands of pounds.

Banksy picture

In July 2011, Saeed Ahmed white washed over a work by Banksy, his “Gorilla in a Pink Mask”, as he believed it made his new Muslim cultural centre in Bristol look scruffy. Too bad he hadn’t heard of Banksy before he covered it in the same way he did with all other de-faced walls of the building, the difference between the Gorilla and the other graffiti is that it was worth a lot — and now will cost thousands of pounds to recover. The gorilla had been stationed on the side of this social club for roughly 10 years. Ahmed made a formal apology stating that he “thought it was worthless” and that was why he had continued to paint over it. Before rolling our eyes at the man’s mistake, we must consider that if we were unaware of Banksy and the money his works of art fetch at auction then we would likely do the same — then kick ourselves hard after we found out.

Only yesterday another piece of Banksy’s work was covered in what has been described by residents as an “act of vandalism” — can graffiti, technically a form of vandalism in itself, be vandalised? The painting showed a crouched police man with a gun and a young boy stood behind him about to burst a blown up paper bag. The painting is on Upper Maudlin Street, opposite the Bristol Children’s Hospital and appeared 4 years ago.

So why is Bansky being banished from our streets? Do you believe that his work is striking and has a real message as assumingly intended? Is it ‘just’ art, and illegal at that? Some people dislike his art and see them as shallow messages drooled over by over-analytical and pretentious fans that would look for meaning in anything done by someone famous, but are the pictures really that one-dimensional? Until the mysterious artist uncovers himself we can only form independent opinions.

Further information can be found at:

4 October 2011

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