When I recently attended a talk about street art and how it is growing in modern culture, it sparked questions about what kind of street art is still around today. What can we see in London right now? And is it anything that we might recognise?
So, I decided to spend the day in London tracking down the art of one of the most infamous and influential street artists, Banksy, an anonymous English artist whose satirical street art and subversive logos combine dark humour with grafiti. Banksy's works have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world. His art initially grew out of the Bristol underground scene before he moved on to London where he now seems to put his work wherever he can find space. However, art is not the only ground he has covered.
Back in 2010, Banksy, along with many close friends, created the film Exit Through the Gift Shop, a story of an immigrant from Los Angeles and his obsession with street art. Of course, to keep up the guessing game, Banksy’s voice has been distorted and his face blurred. Since its release, there have been many debates over whether the documentary is genuine or a mockumentary, although Banksy answered "Yes" when asked if the film is real. In late January 2011, Exit Through the Gift Shop was nominated for a Oscar for Best Documentary. Banksy released a statement about the nomination, stating: "This is a big surprise... I don't agree with the concept of award ceremonies, but I'm prepared to make an exception for the ones I'm nominated for. The last time there was a naked man covered in gold paint in my house, it was me." Leading up to the Oscars, Banksy covered Los Angeles in artwork, but, despite his efforts, Banksy did not win the Oscar.
Growing in fame while managing to remain unknown made Bansky a more interesting artist, increasing his popularity with both celebrities as well as the rest of the country. The next step for the artist was to poke fun at one of the most well-known brands in America.
Banksy opened Dismaland on 21 August 2015 and it permanently closed on 27 September 2015. The “theme park” Dismaland was a temporary art project constructed in the seaside resort town of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, England. Prepared in secret, the pop-up exibition was "a sinister twist on Disneyland that featured 58 artists of the 60 Banksy originally invited to participate. 4,000 tickets were available for purchase per day, priced at £3 each. High demand for tickets to the exhibition caused the Dismaland website to crash repeatedly and some wondered whether or not this was deliberately contrived by Banksy as part of the irony of the Dismaland experience. Many celebrities were attracted to the venue, some international, such as Brad Pitt, Jack Black, Neil Patrick Harris, Russell Brand, And & Dec and Mark Rondon, to name a few.
With all of these reports on Banksy’s work and seeing pictures of his art, I continued to wonder if I could see any of his street art in person. Having looked at online reports suggesting where I could see the real-life Banksy, I decided to seek them out and create a map for other people wanting to see Banksy’s work.
From Left to Right:
‘What are you Looking At’ - Banksy Original, Hyde Park
‘Designated Graffiti Area’ - Banksy Original, Camden Town
‘A Nation Under CCTV’ - Banksy Original, Shaftesbury Theatre
‘WhiteWashing Lascaux’ - Banksy Original, SeaLife Aquarium
‘Falling Shopper’ - Banksy Original, Burton Lane
‘Graffiti Painter’ - Banksy Original, Victoria Park