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art/design, creativity, culture, society

RIP Banksy…

My wife broke the sad news to me last night: We had lost a Banksy

About 2 weeks ago, I had seen ‘Make Tea Not War’ for the very first time and posted it on my Flickr stream. I proudly realised that I had a work of street art round the corner from where I live. Then the council came in with their tins of white paint.

The irony of painting over this Banksy is that the council are actually the ones defacing the art that the British public want to see. They have actually vandalised a very important part of British culture (the same fate occurred with Banksy’s famous maid stencil in Chalk Farm).

‘Make Tea Not War’ –  12th August 2010

‘White Paint Not Banksy’ 24th August 2010

Personally, street art is a crucial part of London. When Banksy collaborated with 39 artists and organised the “Cans Festival” in the Leake Street tunnel from 3-5th May 2008, thousands of visitors queued for over an hour to see this unique outdoor gallery. They produced street art; art that was painted onto the street or decaying walls, not meaningless graffiti.

Think of street art as a free face-lift for run down areas of the city. At the best of times, London’s architecture, weather and pavements are dreary. Street art is the glimpse of colour, the ray of light, the panache we so desperately need. So why take it away and replace it with something that would be at home in a prison cell?

What are your thoughts on street art? Do you think it is a good or bad thing?
To see my street art photos from the Leake Street exhibition, please click here.


About David Lowe

Founder / editor at Origin of Cool (www.originofcool.com) and World Sport Bloopers (http://www.worldsportbloopers.com). Talk to me about building online communities, social media, online advertising and cool stuff. Love ping pong!


13 thoughts on “RIP Banksy…

  1. Street art that is in good taste (i.e. not someones name spray painted or tagged on a wall in untidy handwriting!) looks good and I know of some high street retailers who allow local artists to decorate their shutters.

    Removing a classic like a Banksy is just unneeded and just goes to shows the cultural divide that this country has.

    Posted by L.Charm | August 25, 2010, 12:23
    • I agree. There are a lot of tags on the side of railways and they are often territorial markings by gangs. I don’t know if you’ve ever read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point but he goes into how the New York subways were cleaned of graffiti (tags) a few years back and the crime rate went down. The key difference for me is you always see tags sprayed on top of street art = no respect. Yet you never see a stencil by Banksy sprayed on top of an illegible and often meaningless tag.

      Posted by David J Lowe | August 25, 2010, 12:56
      • Hey Dave,
        Been a long time.

        That was a really interestin chapter in the Tipping Point but if you read Freakonomics it posits a whole different reason for the decrease in crime. The Tipping Point wasn’t all that convincing I felt despite being a good read. I wonder though if I had read Freakonomics first would I have the same opinion. I think so but who knows.

        Posted by Al | August 26, 2010, 01:32
        • Hi Alan! How’s Japan? My parents are over there at the moment. I haven’t read Freakonomics but have heard it’s an interesting read. The Tipping Point was good for a few chapters but certainly not as monumental as most people portray it as being. Thanks for your comment and stay in touch. D

          Posted by David J Lowe | August 26, 2010, 07:21
  2. Loved this article on Banksy…after I realised he wasn’t actually dead! LOL – u scared me!

    Posted by Jess | August 25, 2010, 13:16
  3. At worst, the city should have torn out that section of wall, sold it at auction for thousands/millions (I have no idea how much people would pay for a Banksy) and used the money to rebuild the wall and still have some left over for whatever other project they wanted to do.

    Posted by lichnor | August 25, 2010, 13:27
    • That’s actually a really good idea. Maybe a % of the money goes to charity, a % to the artist, a % to art projects and the rest to rebuild the wall. You should suggest this to Camden Council and the Mayor of London as an initiative.

      Posted by David J Lowe | August 25, 2010, 14:16
  4. I’m a huge fan of street art. Graffiti in itself is sometimes some of my favorite 🙂
    I had put a picture on my blog but you’re making me think I really need to start using Flickr more to post photos taken around Paris.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Posted by Michelle | August 26, 2010, 08:43
    • Would love to see street art and graffiti from Paris as I didn’t spot any when I was over there. If you’re into this, I can recommend Berlin. There is obviously the Berlin Wall which is covered but there are also areas like Shoreditch with murals in the weirdest places. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

      Posted by David J Lowe | August 26, 2010, 09:21
  5. Nice article David! Here are my thoughts:

    I do believe this is a tricky situation for everyone. While I admire Banksy’s work & art and can perfectly understand your frustration at the council for painting over, I think one must also try to put himself in their shoes:

    imagine you’re the council and some street artist decides to start expressing himself by painting on walls all over town. A few pieces of work here and there won’t affect the city’s image much, but imagine if tens or dozens of artists decide to pick up their brushes and do the same as Banksy.
    Soon enough, you’ll have hundreds of pieces of “street art” drawn all over your city and with no way of regulating it.

    In the end, to not end up having to choose which pieces can stay, painting over all of them seems the fairest choice, no?

    Posted by Amir B | August 26, 2010, 15:22
  6. Thanks for comment Amir. Most of Banksy’s other pieces have remained intact as have those of other street artists. That’s what makes me think that it is down to each London council and their discretion whether they think it should stay or go. In this case, Camden decided it should go.

    Posted by David J Lowe | August 26, 2010, 15:36

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