Just got back from Bristol last week. Myself and a mate of mine ventured over to check out famed street artist Banksy. An anonymous apparition who has earned the ‘artist’ appendage to his title as opposed to defacer. When his clever, witty remarks on society started appearing on walls across the UK it was initially met with much anger. Public debate and discourse still rant on about whether his work is art or defacement.
Nonetheless, he has won over a few people to say the least. To gauge this just look at the thou$ands his prints fetch on eBay, $5k and beyond if you were wondering. Or look at the huge press coverage of his defiling of Paris Hilton albums back in 2006. Personally I went a far rougher route to gauge his popularity. The FIVE HOUR queue outside Bristol’s City Museum for the Banksy vs Bristol Museum exhibition.In the queue I spoke with Americans, Spanish, French and Germans who had all trekked to Bristol to see the show. Sure Banksy had other shows, in New York for example, but this was different. Bristol is Banksy’s stomping ground. The keen graffitti hunter armed with google maps can find original Banksy pieces sprayed on the walls of Bristol dating back to 2002.
This is what is intriguing about Bristol. He’s not alone. Whether through sheer tiredness or a new found appreciation, Bristol officials seem to have embraced street art, which is something truly amazing. Simply walking through the streets of Bristol’s more run down areas, this is apparent. Inspired youngsters, fellow comrades and street-art scenesters have adorned many a wall with some great and interesting artwork, easily mistaken for Banksy himself.The embracing of the art is what has allowed street art here to flourish, a far cry from some scumbags scrawling their tags on a wall, as many a scene here in Dublin is testament to. Instead, some clever, witty, art. We even came across one of these artists painting in broad daylight and another showing a mate his most recent work and pointing out nagging imperfections in the piece.
So, maybe if you loosen the noose people can breathe a little? Maybe the powers that be stifle creativity so much that all we see is cheap, brash outbursts of immature rebellion ‘zappo wuz ‘ere 07’… Instead, all we get are ludacris blasphemy laws that tell us that we can be sued if we write “God’s a prick” in a newspaper? Bizarre…