There is no contemporary artist that meshes together art and politics better than local Bristol artist Banksy. For those of you who are not familiar with his work, Banksy is an intriguing cross between a graffiti artist and political activist who has displayed art anonymously all over the world.
In February his name cropped up in the news as one of his murals ‘Slave Labour’, depicting a boy making Union Jack bunting on a sewing machine, was hacked off the side of a Poundland store in north London. It then showed up for auction in Miami with auctioneers expecting it to make £460,000, before being withdrawn from sale.
Whatever you may think about the moral or legal status of Banksy’s artistic style, the shock and disappointment that resulted on hearing the news of his stolen mural offered some valuable insight into the public’s perspective on such political art. His provocative pieces are a powerful reminder of the importance of the freedom of expression, both politically and artistically.
So if you haven’t already, go and see his art for yourself! Here are a few pieces that you just can’t miss:
- ‘Grim Reaper’, Thekla. This is one of the most infamous Banksy works which can be viewed on the side of the Thekla, a boat moored in Bristol harbour.
- ‘Well Hung Lover’, Frogmore Street (just off Park Street). The best views are to be had from the small bridge at the bottom of Park Street that crosses Frogmore Street.
- ‘Mild, Mild West’, The Canteen in Stoke’s Croft. The best view is from the Jamaica Street Junction.
For those of you who want to venture out a little further, there is some more Banksy in Easton. ‘Clic Clack Boom’ is a very early Banksy and sadly has now been mostly covered, just set back from the high street on Stanley Park. ‘Cat and Dog’ is another very early Banksy just round the corner on Foster Street and ‘Masked Gorilla’ is just out of Easton on Fishponds Road. It was accidentally painted over in 2011, but has since been restored and is now a spooky, ethereal version of the original.
For a sneak preview of these pieces to familiarise yourself with what you’ll be looking for, click here.
Becca Caseby, Arts Editor.