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Banksy Locations & Tours Vol 1
A Collection of Graffiti Locations and Photographs in London, England
By Martin Bull
PM Press Copyright © 2011 PM Press
All rights reserved.
THE GEEKY BIT ...
Throughout 2006 many people responded to my leading questions and downright Miss Marpleesque annoyance about where to find a lot of this graffiti. I also discovered a lot myself whilst wandering the streets like a stray dog, following hunches and leads, and smelling the odd lamp-post to get that authentic feel. Over the last four years I have continued to give and take information from various sources.
In an effort to share this info and to let people take their own photos (if they want to - it's not compulsory) I gave a lot of free location information on internet groups/forums/maps, and in 2006 I ran a series of free guided tours in London. All of this then accidentally formulated this book, especially the first two UK editions when the 'tours' were more do-able.
Although the days of 'tours' are over, some of the locations in the book still exist (as of spring 2011 usually), and I will post free book/status updates on my own website: www.shellshockpublishing.co.uk
And I can send these updates to you by email if you want. Just email me at email@example.com
I will try to continue to contribute graffiti/location information on the internet, especially on the following sites:
The Banksy group on Flickr: www.flickr.com/groups/banksy/
The Banksy Forum: www.thebanksyforum.comCHAPTER 2
BUY BYE BYE, SALE SELL SELL
(A.K.A. LEAVE THEM ON THE STREETS PLEASE!)
Without wishing to sound too grave or pompous (this is graffiti after all, where there aren't any rules really), I feel that recent circumstances mean it's an apt time to give a summary of my personal feelings on removing, buying, and selling street pieces by Banksy. You of course have free will to do whatever you want to, hopefully using your conscience and internal moral compass.
First things first. I am just talking about pieces done on the streets, and not canvases, screenprints, etc. Without even knowing what others may think, my natural feeling has always clearly been to 'leave them on the street where they are supposed to be'. Simple as that. I don't need to intellectualise it by going on about the utilitarian 'gift' of work to the street, and the 'democracy of street art'. Whilst people have these inane discussions, real writers are taking risks out on train tracks and climbing shonky drainpipes.
This issue has raised its head higher for me because some people have tried to use BLT as a type of provenance when they are dealing in street pieces. For example, the door the Refuse Store Rat in Clerkenwell was on (see location F8) was removed, and in Sept 2008 it turned up in a Contemporary Art auction by the Scottish auctioneer Lyon & Turnball. This auction controversially contained five Banksy street pieces, all allegedly 'authenticated' by Vermin, a company that has no connection to Banksy.
I was very unhappy when a friend told me they had referenced this book in their description of the piece. I rattled off a complaint to Lyon & Turnball, but they refused to take out the reference to BLT. My follow-up emails went unanswered (not surprisingly I guess, especially as the third one was childishly smug that their auction had been a colossal flop). The estimate price was £20-25,000, but it remained unsold.
My books are a bit of fun really and are not meant to provide some sort of claim of provenance for a street piece. I'm just a big geeky fan of Banksy's work, and these are meant as information books and DIY guides. Believe it or not, these books have actually been quite hard work as well. They are not sales catalogues, nor a map to find what pieces to steal, take to auction or buy from the owner. And anyway, Banksy and Pest Control are the only people that can provide 'provenance' for anything (definitely not me!), and quite correctly none of them will give provenance on street pieces because they don't want to. Is that an accident? No, it's because street pieces are meant for the street.
This particular auction led to a rare statement from Banksy, as reported by the Evening Standard. He said: "Graffiti art has a hard enough life as it is - with council workers wanting to remove it and kids wanting to draw moustaches on it, before you add hedgefund managers wanting to chop it out and hang it over the fireplace. For the sake of keeping all street art where it belongs, I'd encourage people not to buy anything by anybody unless it was created for sale in the first place." (my emboldening)
Similarly, Pest Control added a note of warning about street pieces, as it said on its website: "[Banksy] would encourage anyone wanting to purchase one of his images to do so with extreme caution, but does point out that many copies are superior in quality to the originals. Since the creation of Pest Control in January 2008 we have identified 89 street pieces ... falsely attributed to the artist."CHAPTER 3
HOXTON & SHOREDITCH
This was the biggest tour by far, and at a pretty decent pace it took us three hours. It could have been far more if I included all the local streets and all the local graffiti. It is everywhere, although the Council do seem to be less tolerant now. And it's ever-changing, so even though most of the featured graffiti has now gone, you're bound to always find something new in this area, or even something you never noticed before.
Literally stumbling across 'the maid' (see S20) early-ish one Sunday morning in May 2006 (I suspect Banksy did it in the small hours of that morning) is a pleasure you can only really get by wandering around, keeping your eyes open, and following your destiny. So I suggest getting out of the house and taking the dog for a walk if you can (even if you don't have a dog ...).
This tour went around the capital of UK street art - Hoxton, Old St, Shoreditch, and Brick Lane - the creative, yet run-down, nuevo-trendy East End. The streets (and railway bridges and skanky alleys) are literally awash with graffiti of different styles, plus paste-ups, stickers, installations, art projects and all sorts of weird and wonderfully creative ramblings (picture frames on the street, nailed up art, tattooists, photographers, fashion victims and maybe even Nathan Barley on his poxy BMX if you are unlucky enough).
Postcode: EC1Y 1AU
Map/GPS reference: TQ 32796 82288
Location & Any Other Info I Can Think Of
Oliver's Yard, just off City Rd (A501). As seen in the Banksy books and on his website. Not surprisingly it's now very faded (it's been there since at least mid-2005) but it's the only Poison Rat left in the area, and is complete with green waste spewing across the pavement.
Still just visible (June 2011).
CHECK OUT THE WALL ...
Postcode: EC1V 2NR
Map/GPS reference: TQ 32706 82522
Location & Geeky History
By Exit 8 of Old Street tube station. It may be white, it may be black, it may have art on it, it might not ... It used to be an ever-changing, open-air gallery. The 'writer' Arofish was probably the first to paint this wall white and then come back later to add some art to it (he used the old trick of posing as a workman - it's amazing what you can get away with in life when you have a £2.99 hi-viz jacket on!). After that it had a succession of art and paint-overs, including this cheeky reference by El Chivo to the repainting, but since 2007 it's mainly been blank.
This used to live on an old disused entrance to Moorfields Eye Hospital on City Rd (by Cayton St - Postcode: EC1V 9EH. Map/GPS reference: TQ 32551 82701)
It was a great example of a large microphone rat, although I like to think of it as a rat belting out 'My Way' on a karaoke machine or maybe toasting at a sweaty sound system clash in Kingston (Jamaica, not Upon-Thames).
It was there since at least mid-2004. For half of 2006 it was covered up during renovations to the building, but it managed to survive. It was released again in October 2006 and endured nicely until late November/early December 2007 when a great big bit of wood was put over it. The wood was weakly screwed over it and the rat could still be seen under the wood for several years until the hospital decided to auction it off on 7th October 2010. It raised £30,000 for research into new treatment for eye disease.
The Evening Standard reported that "Banksy and his team were involved throughout the planning and had helped the Moorfield to cut the picture ... from the wall" and that it seemed to be the man himself who made last-minute restorations to the work.
There was the obligatory tinge of irony to the auction though. Jeffrey Archer was the 'celebrity' auctioneer and it was held in the Saatchi Gallery. Banksy famously remarked in the ultra-rare face-to-face interview with the Guardian in 2003, "I wouldn't sell s**t to Charles Saatchi. If I sell 55,000 books and however many screenprints, I don't need one man to tell me I'm an artist ... No, I'd never sell anything to him." And in what seems like another reference to him, Mr. B also told artnet in 2003 that, "I don't like the gallery system. These days, the value of art seems to come down to whether one millionaire likes it or not."
CUTTING RATS & GANGSTA RAT
These cutting rats used to be outside Fifteen Restaurant, on Westland Place (postcode: N1 7LP. Map/GPS reference: TQ 32551 82807).
Being an advocate for tree-hugging pinko liberals ... this stencil was done next to Jamie Oliver's 'social restaurant' Fifteen in oh so trendy Hoxton, as if some rats were breaking into it. He also did the same stencil on the gates to the Greenpeace office in London (see BLT Vol 2). Is there no end to this man's humour?
They had been there since at least mid-2004, but they disappeared circa March 2007. The rats were actually on panes of blackened glass, which were removed and replaced, presumably by the owners of the building.
A gangsta rat lived just around the corner from at least 2005 (see inset photo - the best photo I have, I'm afraid. It had gone by the time I went back to get better ones) but that was whitewashed in 2006, well before the cutting rats went.
This used to be on a slightly tucked away wall, on the corner of Vestry St and East Rd (postcode: N1 7LP. Map/GPS reference: TQ 32551 82807).
The photo shows the 'Smiley' Copper on the badly peeling wall, after having been amended by an artist unknown to make it a rather unique 'blank faced' copper instead. Also rather uniquely, a large Banksy tag covered the stomach area.
This exact graffiti is shown in Banksy's book Wall and Piece and has also been on his website, where it introduced the idea of 'Clubism', a tongue-in-cheek new movement in art ("it's dirty and mindless but it's the best way to get over a bad week at work").
It had lived there since at least spring 2004 (and possibly a lot earlier than that) but was badly buffed in February 2007. The wall looked a mess! Shepard Fairey later added a paste-up to the wall during his November 2007 visit to London (see inset photo, right).
GIRL WITH BALLOON
This was on the side of some flats on the New North Rd (A1200), close to Wimbourne St (postcode: N1 6TA. Map/GPS reference: TQ 32696 83342) and had been shown on Banksy's website many years ago.
Sometime around spring 2006 the balloon was repainted, by a person unknown. The whole piece was painted over in March 2007 but could still be vaguely seen through the new grey paint. I suspected this might happen as the local housing estate was being renovated and when that happens they generally give everything that doesn't move a coat of paint as well. The wall has since had a massive piece by the Toasters on it for several years now.
Although this was the last Girl with Balloon to survive, there was a point when there were loads of them in London! Versions existed around the South Bank (one was on the east side of Waterloo Bridge and featured in Wall and Piece; others existed on Clink St, and on the east side of Blackfriars Bridge - that one featured in Woody Allen's film Match Point); Shoreditch (there was one on Paul St, one on the corner of Pitfield St and Bowling Green Walk, and one on Provost St); and, Clerkenwell (St. John St).
This image is consistently chosen by fans (especially females) as their favourite image, and its meaning is endlessly debated on dull forums. Is the girl grabbing for the balloon (lost love?) or is she letting it go? Who cares? I would have thought it was relatively clear, as his books give the following caption "When the time comes to leave, just walk away quietly and don't make any fuss." When Pictures On Walls (POW) used to sell the image as a print, the description read, "Banksy was never his mother's favourite - and he was an only child."
This existed from at least early 2005 under the foot bridge that goes over the Regent's Canal. The bridge is the pedestrianised section of road between Shepherdess Walk (B144) and Packington Square (postcode: N1 7JL. Map/GPS reference: TQ 32282 83375).
In late May 2010 it was totally blacked out though, and replaced by the following comment - 'I see a Banksy and have got to paint it black - Team Robbo rollin with the Stones' - alongside a pastiche of John Pasche's famous Rolling Stones mouth logo. This was presumably part of the longer-term fallout from the now infamous 'Robbo' incident (in December 2009 Banksy amended/went over a very old piece by veteran writer Robbo further along the Regent's Canal in Camden, and all hell broke loose afterwards).
It was a good example of how (I assume) Banksy reuses stencils, as it seems the same as the one used for the 'Tourist Information' guy, just off the Hackney Rd (Ion Square - see inset photo - it had almost gone by the time I found it in 2006 and has now faded even more into obscurity), and another version that popped up in Hoxton Square in 2004.
A great little umbrella rat used to live in the corner of a large whitewashed section of wall on the lovely house next to the newsagents that is on the corner of East Rd and New North Rd (postcode: N1 6JB. Map/GPS reference: TQ 32877 83049).
Before the wall was whitewashed, I think there was other graffiti there (by other writers), but only the Banksy was saved. Six months later though the whole wall was painted over.
I'll always remember a nice moment on my second free tour of Shoreditch graffiti when I was outside this building, giving the throng of over fifty people a bit of info about it. A rather hippie-fied resident of the building opened the door, in his dressing gown (it was about 2 p.m. by this point), and was slightly bemused at this huge group of people goggling at his wall.
This was on the metal newsagents box of City Supermarket, 57 Pitfield St - near Haberdasher St (postcode: N1 6BU. Map/GPS reference: TQ 33014 82852).
A pretty awful specimen, with loads of runs (and therefore maybe a fake), but it was a good example of how these metal newsagent boxes are a great target for graffiti writers, because they are left out all night for secure milk and newspaper deliveries.
This was buffed, circa December 2006.
'HAVE A NICE DAY'/HAPPY CHOPPER
Postcode: EC2A 3JD
Map/GPS reference: TQ 32978 82519
Location & Daring Tales of Climbing on Roofs (hardly)
Above 'Wa Do Chinese Fast Food' shop on the corner of Old St and Tabernacle St. A large Banksy tag (with an exclamation mark, something he only did on earlier pieces) is out of shot, to the right. There is a great photo of this in the snow in Banksy's Wall and Piece book, when it used to be Franco's Fish & Chips shop below. It dates it to 2003.
Not long after it was done it was rather ironically obscured by a massive advertising hoarding above it (in addition to the existing shop sign below it). But you could climb up on the roof to get a better look at it. Loads of painting paraphernalia is up there; maybe some of it was used to do the piece? The image is very similar to the A2 poster given away with some copies of the March 2003 issue of the magazine Sleazenation.
Still there (June 2011), but very obscured and has been mainly covered in transparent plastic since spring 2010. It can be easier to look at from a distance, or from buildings opposite if you can wangle your way in.
Excerpted from Banksy Locations & Tours Vol 1 by Martin Bull. Copyright © 2011 PM Press. Excerpted by permission of PM Press.
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