Quantcast
Connect with us

Banksy’s home city an urban canvas for elusive artist

Published

on

Five years ago, British street artist Banksy adorned the side of a once uninspiring white brick building in Bristol with the familiar image of a girl gazing out solemnly.

The dank courtyard beneath the stencil has, like many other spots the mysterious artist has decorated in his purported home city in southwest England, become one of Britain’s most photographed places.

ADVERTISEMENT

A parody pastiche of “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Dutch Golden Age painter Johannes Vermeer, it bears all the hallmarks of Banksy’s cheekily irreverent style.

The elusive Briton, whose identity is said to be known to only a handful of friends, has positioned the work so that a hexagonal security alarm box sits in place of the earring.

The creation, now one of his most famous, is known as “The Girl with a Pierced Eardrum”.

AFP / GEOFF CADDICK Banksy’s street art, titled “Well Hung Lover” in Bristol, is another popular stop for tourists

It attracts admirers daily, many of them tourists on a well-trodden trail heavily documented on social media.

“Well Hung Lover”, around 15 minutes walk away, is another popular stop.

ADVERTISEMENT

Depicting a naked man hanging from the ledge of a window, below a lingerie-clad woman and a suited man looking out, it has graced the wall of a former sexual health clinic since 2006.

Standing on the street transfixed by the image, a group of French schoolchildren listen attentively to a guide narrating the remarkable backstory of the king of street art.

– ‘Nobody ever listened to me’ –

ADVERTISEMENT

Banksy’s most famous, or perhaps infamous, work is now called “Love is in the Bin”.

Moments after the painting “Girl with Balloon” sold for £1,042,000 ($1.4 million, 1.2 million euros) last year — a joint record for the maverick artist — it literally went through the shredder, which was hidden in the frame.

ADVERTISEMENT

AFP/File / Ben STANSALL Banksy put “Girl with Balloon” through a hidden shredder after it was auctioned

The buyer went through with the purchase, and some art experts say it is now worth more than it had been before the stunt.

Despite years in the international spotlight as he became one of the most famous artists of his generation, remarkably little is known about Banksy.

“Nobody ever listened to me until they didn’t know who I was,” he has said with characteristic irony.

ADVERTISEMENT

Legend has it he was born in Bristol in 1974.

He attended an educational project offering young graffiti artists the chance to practise their art without breaking the law, according to John Nation, sometimes nicknamed the “godfather” of Bristol street art.

AFP / GEOFF CADDICK Murals such as “Mild Mild West” by Banksy have helped make Bristol one of the world capitals of street art

“As a young boy, he’d come to the centre and watch people paint,” he told the Huffington Post. “He was heavily into hip hop culture, graffiti.”

Banksy then purportedly joined the DryBreadZ Crew (DBZ), a gang of street artists formed in the early 1990s.

ADVERTISEMENT

It was a time of cultural blossoming for the city, which included the so-called Bristol Sound of Massive Attack and Portishead, pioneers of trip hop music.

– ‘Accepted’

In 2001, the artist reportedly accompanied Bristol amateur football club Easton Cowboys on a tour of Mexico, playing as a goalkeeper and producing several stencilled works while there.

AFP / GEOFF CADDICK Banksy paved the way for Bristol’s unique relationship with street art

His notoriety mushroomed as his politically pointed murals — denouncing consumerism, the fate of refugees in Europe and other issues — began to appear around the world, from Calais to Gaza.

But Banksy appears to have never forgotten Bristol, regularly returning to erect new works.

ADVERTISEMENT

Over the last two decades he has helped to make this city of 460,000 inhabitants on the Avon River one of the world capitals of street art, laying the ground for the 150 or so artists who work there today.

“Banksy has led the charge and his popularity and his rise have allowed street art to be accepted,” said Jody Thomas, a local street artist.

– ‘He’s like Santa Claus’ –

Walking around the city, the unique relationship it has forged with this art form is ubiquitous.

AFP / GEOFF CADDICK Bristol now has around 150 street artists 

The Bedminster neighbourhood has become an open-air museum studded with urban frescoes.

ADVERTISEMENT

In Stokes Croft, between DJ shops and falafel restaurants, Banksy’s “Mild Mild West” mural — depicting a teddy bear ready to fight with anti-riot police — looms large.

What Banksy has given to Bristol, the city has returned to him, by helping to preserve his anonymity as if there is a secret pact with its inhabitants.

“There’s been occasions where his identity may have been on the verge of (coming) out and other people have had conversations or taken actions (so) that it’s not happened,” said Steve Hayles, of the Upfest Gallery.

AFP / GEOFF CADDICK Parts of Bristol, where Banksy is believed to originate, have become like an open-air museum studded with urban frescoes

“He’s like Santa Claus,” he added, noting: “People don’t want to ruin the illusion”.

ADVERTISEMENT

“You don’t want people going up to your kids and (saying) Santa Claus isn’t real.

“In the same way that you don’t want to go up to people and go… ‘well this is Banksy’.”


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump openly solicits payment to US treasury for his ‘approval’ of TikTok sale – which he is forcing

Published

on

President Donald Trump says he is allowing Microsoft to purchase the U.S. assets of the popular Beijing-based TikTok social media video sharing app, in a sale Trump personally is forcing.

In discussing what he sees as the broad portions of an agreement the President used a real estate term to openly solicit the payment that would have to be made to the U.S. Treasury.

"I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the U.S. Treasury of the United States, because we're making it possible for this deal to happen," Trump told reporters Monday afternoon.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Andrew Cuomo rips Trump like never before: ‘This was the worst government blunder in modern history’

Published

on

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) on Monday accused President Donald Trump of presiding over "the worse government blunder in modern history."

At his daily COVID-19 briefing, Cuomo said that it was time for the president to hit the "reset button" on his handling of the pandemic.

"If we don't tell the truth on the reset, COVID will never end," the New York governor explained. "It will ricochet across the country. It will just bounce back and forth."

"This was a colossal blunder -- how COVID was handled by this federal government," he continued. "Shame on all of you. Six months, lives lost. Hit the reset button, yes."

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump snaps at Jim Acosta for reminding him of coronavirus death toll: ‘Fake news CNN’

Published

on

President Donald Trump on Monday snapped at CNN's Jim Acosta when he reminded the president that the novel coronavirus so far has killed 155,000 Americans.

During a question-and-answer session with reporters, the president boasted that the United States had done an "amazing" job at handling the COVID-19 pandemic, at which point Acosta interrupted him and tried to ask him about the 155,000 people who have died from the disease in just five months.

"The U.S. has so many deaths," Acosta said.

"Hold it!" Trump replied.

"So many countries around the world..."

"Fake news CNN," he said. "Hold it. We have done a great job in this country. We haven't been given enough -- not me, Vice President Pence, the task force -- have not been given the kind of credit."

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image