CULTURE

BANKSY IN LONDON

SOMETHING TO SPRAY HOME ABOUT

You’ve seen his graffiti online… But sometimes the internet just isn’t enough.

When Time Magazine named British graffiti master (or ‘hoodlum, who does he think he is?’ depending on your viewpoint) Banksy in its list of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2010, the notorious Bristol-born street artist, filmmaker and all-purpose provocateur found himself in the company of Barack Obama, Steve Jobs and Lady Gaga. An international man of mystery in no rush to hog the limelight, he supplied a picture of himself with a paper bag over his head. Obviously.

A

lmost everything known about the man beneath the bag had been deduced from signature rat stencils, policemen with smiley faces and Pulp Fiction killers firing bananas. What else could we expect? The incomplete Banksy background story is already an unwritten bestseller; shrouded in speculation, mystery just makes this man more intriguing. The legend of Banksy has grown to such mythical heights, stories of his identity have been spun into incredible fantasies.

Some people turn to graffiti because they want to make the world a better place, and Banksy counts himself among them. Two years prior to his nomination by Time, Banksy’s cult status had already climbed as such, that after appearing on a Portobello Road wall in September 2008, the sale of the stencilled image of a French painter scrawling Banksy’s name, attracted 69 bids on eBay, eventually achieving the staggering offer of £208,100.

Emblazoned in clear view of Portobello Road Market in London’s exclusive W11 postcode, Luti Fagbenle was offered the equivalent of over $400,000 for the piece which had recently shown up on the wall of his post-production company, Portobello Post. The eBay sale of a wall adorned with Banksy made world headlines; so did the hype about its handsome value. But no change in ownership of the large mural and its brick canvas was ever officially confirmed, by eBay or Fagbenle. The expectation was that after its sale, the precious portion, all 80 bricks of it, would be relocated and the removed bricks replaced. Lucky for us, six years on the classically dressed painter is still on Portobello putting the finishing touches on it’s artist’s name.

Now that his work is changing hands for hundreds of thousands of pounds, there are not many pieces of his work still in place in London, but if you follow the yellow brick road to the London locations listed here you’ll find three original Banksy’s, in the flesh, er, in the paint. 

THE FRENCH GRAFFITI PAINTER

Head along West London’s Portobello Road to Acklam Road, near the Westway flyover, to check it out. Protected by Perspex but still spruced up by a tag or two it’s definitely a must-see for any Banksy fans.
WHERE:  Corner of Acklam Road and Portobello Road, Notting Hill
NEAREST TUBE STATION: Ladbroke Grove

THE FALLING SHOPPER

Look up! The Falling Shopper dangles well above street level on an old office building, to the east of Hyde Park in the upmarket area of Mayfair.
WHERE: Bruton Lane, Mayfair
NEAREST TUBE STATION: Green Park

IF GRAFFITI CHANGED ANYTHING…

Featuring Banksy’s long-time calling card, a stencilled rat, this mantra – a subtle reworking of the old anarchist credo ‘If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal’ – appears on a cracked white wall in trendy Fitzrovia, not far from the BT Tower.
WHERE: Clipstone Street, Fitzrovia
NEAREST TUBE STATION: Great Portland Street

 For a large interactive map of the locations listed above click here

Related