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Banksy Locations & Tours Vol 2
A Collection of Graffiti Locations and Photographs From Around the UK
By Martin Bull
PM Press Copyright © 2011 PM Press
All rights reserved.
"WE MAKE A LIVING BY WHAT WE GET, BUT WE MAKE A LIFE BY WHAT WE GIVE"
The author will donate 12% of his royalties to support the excellent work of the three charitable organisations below (4% to each organisation).
Bristol Mind (UK registered charity no. 1085171) does excellent work to provide a range of high-quality services which are reflective and relevant to the needs of the mental health service user community around Bristol. They also combat stigma and promote a positive image of mental health. Mental and emotional health problems can happen to anyone, at any age and from any background. I truly believe that all of us are just a few bad turns in life away from needing this type of help. Don't kid yourself that it couldn't be you – divorce, bereavement, redundancy, abuse, repossession, etc. can happen to any of us, and it is often problems like those that lead to mental distress. Please visit www.bristolmind.org.uk.
Ben's Centre (UK registered charity no. 1087606) provides a 'damp' day service to street drinkers in Sheffield. It works to accept individuals where they are and acts as a bridge between an individual's chaotic street drinking lifestyle and one that enables them to fulfil their potential, whatever that may be. I was particularly impressed by an interview with the manager there who said, "Of course we want to break the cycle of addiction, but you're not going to do that until Joe Bloggs knows he's Joe Bloggs and remembers he once liked fishing on a Sunday afternoon." I like that succinctness. Please visit http://benscentre.wordpress.com.
merls [change] is a charitable organisation that I recently set up (in accordance with the Charities Act 2006, charity registration will be applied for if annual income reaches more than £5,000). I used to work/volunteer in Ethiopia, and I've also worked and volunteered in the voluntary and community sector in England for many years. 'Merls' means 'change' (as in 'pocket change') in Amharigna, a main Ethiopian language, but 'change' in English also means the ability to amend and transform. In its very small way, 'merls' will mean change for the rural people in Ethiopia. It's not that I don't like urban people, it's just that the rural people are often forgotten in that vast country, and to me they represent the 'average Jo' of the country. All of this donation will be spent on projects, and none on the organisation's admin, travel, and other such expenses.CHAPTER 2
THE GEEKY BIT ...
Between 2006 and 2011 many kind people responded to my leading questions and downright Miss Marple-esque pursuit of 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 lamppost to get that authentic feel. I continued to give information and take it from various kindly 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 have given a lot of free location information on internet groups/forums/location maps, and in 2006 I ran a series of free guided tours in London. All of this then accidentally became the raw material for Banksy Locations & Tours Vol 1. The days of my guided tours are over, though. There is not enough left to make them possible.
The Bristol tour in this book is still worth doing, though (as of May 2011), and almost half of the art at the locations in this book still exists, in a greater or lesser condition. If you want to find all this art yourself, this book (and Vol 1) will help. Take your own 'A to Z' street map with you though; maps are invaluable in this geeky game and will become your own comfort blanket. I will also post free updates to the info in the books on my website, which may be able to save you a wasted journey when a piece disappears. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
I will continue to contribute location information on internet, especially on the following sites:
The Banksy group on Flickr: www.flickr.com/groups/banksy/
The Banksy Forum: www.thebanksyforum.comCHAPTER 3
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 supposed to be any rules really), I feel that recent circumstances mean I need 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 a wise conscience and internal moral compass.
First things first. I am just talking about pieces done on the streets and not canvases, screenprints, etc. My natural feeling has always clearly been to 'leave them on the street where they belong'. Simple as that. I don't need to intellectualise it all 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 out taking risks on train tracks and climbing drainpipes.
This issue has unfortunately raised its head higher for me because some people have tried to use my first Banksy Locations & Tours book as a form of provenance when they are dealing in street pieces. For example, in late 2007–early 2008 the door the Refuse Store Rat in Clerkenwell was on (see Location F8 in BLT Vol 1) was removed, and it turned up in a Contemporary Art auction by the Scottish auctioneer Lyon & Turnball in September 2008. 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 my 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. Its estimated 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 to give provenance to 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 an invitation to find pieces to steal, take to auction or buy from the owner. Banksy and Pest Control are the only people that can provide 'provenance' for anything Banksy-related (definitely not me!) and 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 4
Banksy Locations & Tours Vol 1 groups 65 Banksy graffiti locations (and a few by other artists and graffiti writers) into walking tours of three distinct areas of London.
I did not mean for this book to be dominated by London. I saw it primarily as a round-up of any other Banksy graffiti all around the UK and assumed it would be quite geographically balanced. But when I sat down and counted up the locations I was a bit shocked to realise that two-thirds of the locations are actually in London again. Oh well, c'est la vie, this is another annoyingly Londoncentric book then! The cold facts are that since Banksy left Bristol, circa 2000, a lot of his street pieces have been done in London and nearly every UK piece since 2005 had been done there until he started wandering a bit further in 2010.
Not surprisingly then London still has quite a few left to see, although time and local councils are now ravaging them.
At each 'live' location (i.e. ones still existing) I have given the nearest public transport link available; usually the local tube stations, but occasionally a train station or even a bus route.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?
This was part of the rabbit warren-style Marble Arch subway complex (Map/GPS reference: TQ 27748 80918). It was next to the toilets, which since renovation are no longer directly accessible by the subway.
This is featured in Banksy's books Wall and Piece and Cut It Out, which date it to 2004, and also in the B Movie added extra that was part of the Exit Through the Gift Shop DVD release. The iconic stencil lasted over five years, despite being in such a high-profile place!
In an article in October 2008 about the possible removal of the 'One Nation Under CCTV' piece (see Location LDN7), the BBC reported that 'What Are You Looking At?' was not being removed as the whole area is being redeveloped. By spring 2009 work had started on the area, with the subways close to the graffiti being bricked up, and equipment appearing near the Banksy but never damaging it.
But sometime between November 2009 and June 2010 it was sandblasted away, and someone sarcastically added a comment underneath the already broken CCTV camera, asking, 'Who Are You Looking at Now?' (see inset photo right).
Postcode: SW1X 7PH
Map/GPS reference: TQ 27617 79716
Location & Details: Inside The Wellington Club at 116A Knightsbridge, on the corner of a small alley called Park Close.
A rather strange one, this. This work was described by the auctioneers Bonhams as "one of a number of studies" for the cover of Blur's 2003 album Think Tank. It is done on distressed steel, measures 155 x 135cm and was called 'Tank – Embracing Couple' by Bonhams when they sold it for £62,400 at their Vision 21 auction in London on 25th October 2006. It is noticeably very, very similar to the finished album cover, with the only large difference being the single word 'Tank' on this. It's presumably a piece done in the studio, as opposed to some related (and slightly later) works that were done on farm buildings in Yorkshire for the band's photo shoot for the cover of the launch issue of the Observer Music Monthly magazine in September 2003. Two of these outdoor works were later sold at auction by Bonhams in April 2007.
Now it rather casually hangs on a wall in an 'exclusive' club in Knightsbridge, whatever that means. Look it up on the 'net and you get the usual rubbish about Paris Hilton and Chelsea footballers -it's where John Terry and Jody Morris were arrested in 2002. It does make it hard to visit.
Nearest tube: Knightsbridge (Piccadilly line)
Fine apparently (July 2010), although it is surprising that it's not protected. The photo shows it with a 'Free Tibet' sticker on it, which is surely irony given where it is now located and how much it cost at auction.
SWISS EMBASSY CAR PARK
Postcode: W1H 2ET
Map/GPS reference: TQ 27708 81606
Location: Inside the Swiss Embassy, 16–18 Montagu Place, London, W1H 2BQ
In February 2008 a little-known secret about a nation often stereotyped as rather dull, secretive and overly conservative, suddenly got worldwide publicity. When the Swiss Embassy, in deepest central London, hosted the launch of Your Game, a charitable project run by the BBC and the Football Foundation to help young people who might be at risk of getting involved in gang culture, gun crime or substance abuse, few people knew that its underground car park contained the biggest and oldest collection of Banksy originals on walls anywhere in the world!
Photos and publicity from the launch showed a stunning array of work by Banksy and others, such as Chu, Snug and some Swiss graffiti writers. It dated back to 2001 when a project called Next Generation, designed to engage with the next generation of people and artists, ran various events through the year starting with a 'Graffiti Party' on 26th January. The artists were allowed free run in the car park and painted over two allnight sessions before the event. Banksy and Chu are no strangers, having painted together before and since this event, including at the infamous Walls on Fire event in Bristol in 1998. Chu also worked on Banksy's earlier screenprints and they later collaborated on the crime scene style tape that said 'Polite Line – Do Not Get Cross'.
Afterwards the Guardian reported that originally "the plan was to whitewash the walls but the embassy was pleased with the results and decided to keep the graffiti."
There are many pieces in there that are obviously by Banksy: a multitude of spiky-haired Lenins (labelled 'vulture capitalists'); a huge Mona Lisa with target, flames and a 'Banksy' tag (see photo right); monkeys with similar flames and targets; a security guard; 'This Is Not a Photo Opportunity'; Mickey Mouse in flames; and a dreaming poodle, which has since been taken out of the garage and into the office.
Limited information is available on the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs website (www.eda.admin.ch/london), which includes the lovely quote that participation in sport helps "young people involved in or at risk of deviant social behaviour". 'Deviant' is such an underused word these days I feel.
All still fine apparently but unfortunately the Embassy doesn't seem to understand the ethos of graffiti and refuses to let people visit it even with an appointment, security checks etc. Presumably they are happy to give the 'youth' a voice but then that voice will rapidly become the property of a posh Embassy. I've entered many embassies when I used to live in Ethiopia (and not long after a prolonged war), so I can't believe that there are insurmountable problems in allowing at least limited access to it. Maybe the stereotype of the Swiss mentality is true after all?
Move along now; unfortunately there's nothing to see here.
This was on the back of a bright red bus ticket machine on Hampstead Rd, very close to the large junction with Euston Rd (Euston Underpass). It was the best quality poison rat I had ever seen, although it didn't have any toxic waste spilling from it. It had been there since at least mid-2006 but was painted over sometime in 2008, to send it to the pet cemetery.
CND SOLDIERS & PETROLHEAD CANVASSES
For a few years these two large canvasses were part of Brian Haw's peace and anti-sanctions camp in Parliament Square, London, after apparently being donated to the cause by Banksy. The CND Soldiers canvas was basically the same as the street version shown towards the front of the Cut It Out and Wall and Piece books, and also the print version sold via Pictures On Walls (POW). Peace advocates often poignantly placed little wooden crosses at the bottom of the canvas.
The other canvas was commonly known as Petrolhead, as it showed a man pointing a petrol pump at his head like a gun (it can briefly be seen in Cut It Out). The first one of these was apparently stolen and was replaced with the one in my photograph. A 10cm square sticker of it used to be available via POW with the 'catalogue number' BNK/5Y 027, a small canvas of it was on sale at Santa's Ghetto in 2003, and the image also appeared twice at the Turf War exhibition in July 2003. In addition this image was stamped on a rare 12" white-label sampler for Blur's Think Tank album in 2003 and also on a promo CD. Placards of it were also made for the anti-war protests in London in February 2003.
Excerpted from Banksy Locations & Tours Vol 2 by Martin Bull. Copyright © 2011 PM Press. Excerpted by permission of PM Press.
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