Dean O'Brien's Blog

In search of Banksy in London: Not what I call graffiti..

with one comment

I have never been keen on graffiti.  In fact I have always hated it.  People who produce it talk about street art.  It never has been and never will be in my eyes.  Its nothing more than glorified marker pen vandalism.  The people who produce it talk about coming from the wrong side of the social divide..’ghetto this’ and ‘urban that’…..’you know what I mean bruv?’…..  Do me a favour.  Its the same wherever you go.  From the back streets of Paris to the winding roads of Budapest this so called ‘art’ is sprayed all over historic buildings.  The majority of it looks disgraceful.

When I first came across the work of Banksy I saw something different.  His work fitted with the environment and was very well thought out.  His work also contains a narrative, which again as a photographer I can relate to.  It wasn’t a cheap ‘tag’ sprayed on a bus.  Aesthetically, it was very pleasing and warranted further investigation.  I decided that next time when I was in London that I would go in search of some of Banksy’s work.  Well last weekend I was in London for the weekend and headed up near Old Street where Banksy used to have many pieces.  The one which I wanted to see more than any other was the girl with the red balloon.  This has however long been gone.  My second favourite had to be the apache helicopter with what look like bows in the rotors.  After some research I knew that this piece still existed although the state of it could not be confirmed.  So off I trundle and eventually find the piece just barely visible above the Wa Do chinese fast food take away.  Was it what I expected to see?  Not exactly.  I did hope to find it in all its glory but I was pleased that at least I got to see this with my own eyes whilst whats left of it is still visible.

What I also find interesting about the work of Banksy is that there are no copyright restrictions on the use of the work.  In fact, I picked up a postcard of the girl with the red balloon from Paperchase at Euston Station.  On his website he says ‘please take anything and make your own but for non-commercial use only’.  Not something we often hear in these days of open greed.  Mind you, I suppose its a very grey area trying to sue somebody over a photo they took of a piece of graffiti that you would have to admit to doing.  Especially once they try and sell it on a canvas or a mug.  I think Paperchase missed the small print which mentioned the ‘non-commercial use’ bit though.

Once again, a very valid point is proven here.  If you like a piece of work.  Go and see it.  See it how the artist wanted it to be seen in its full glory.  Okay, this Banksy could do with a slight resurrection to say the least.  However, I am glad that I made the trip and effort to seek this out.

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Written by Dean O'Brien

September 23, 2010 at 9:39 am

One Response

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  1. I know this might seem off topic to this post but when you wrote
    “The people who produce it talk about coming from the wrong side of the social divide..’ghetto this’ and ‘urban that’…..’you know what I mean bruv?’….. Do me a favour.” it reminded me of the song by crass called It’s The Greatest Working Class Rip-Off (The crass song was about the thuggery of skinhead bands lead by rubbish sun journalist gary bushell) because of the way in which you criticise a group of people suppose to represent an alienated group of people. One is done through music the other the marker pen.

    Chris Alford

    October 16, 2010 at 9:11 pm


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