Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Opening my Banksy Account

Banksy Mousetrap, Kingsdown, Bristol (2008)
It's amusing to read the recent consternation about the Banksy stencil (or lack of) on a Poundland store in Wood Green, London. There are people trying to make big bucks out of something that is seen by many as illegal and antisocial.

I'll admit I'm a big fan of Banksy. He combines intelligence, wit and daring, always with great skill and often with a sprinkling of politics. His work has done a lot to convince people to treat graffiti as legitimate art. I've been an avid 'graffiti hunter' since my architecture school days when (for a student project) I designed a Graffiti Museum for Bristol. There are very many tremendously talented and imaginative graffiti artists working in Bristol and Cardiff. My local Cardiff park has hosted a "Roxe Jam" since 2007 where, every July, a 130 metre length of Railtrack-owned wall is repainted by an international collection of artists.

Street art, Cathays, Cardiff (2012)
One of the essential qualities of street art I've noticed is its transitory nature. Many pieces are scrubbed away by the local municipal cleansing department, the remainder are eroded by the weather, replaced by the artists or amended by their rivals. Their artists, like Banksy, are often elusive.

But, as Banksy knows from experience, it seems however much an artist tries to remain outside the establishment the gallery and auction house system will eventually reel them in. In the art world it's a strategy of the very best artists to always strive to stay one or two steps ahead. I'll watch with interest to see what cunning plan the Banksy's of this world come up with next!