The Bristol-born street artist Banksy has achieved worldwide acclaim in recent years for his impressive and often thought-provoking paintings. Using the urban landscape as his canvas, Banksy can create pieces that are comical, political and sometimes challenging, often highlighting a certain situation through the medium of graffiti.
Chances are, you’ve heard of Banksy and seen one of his paintings – whether in the flesh, in a book or a Banksy print online, but how much do you actually know about the mysterious artist called Banksy?
Who is Banksy?
- Banksy was born in Bristol in 1974, the son of a photocopier technician
- When he first started, he was part of DryBreadZ Crew, a Bristol-based street gang
- Banksy’s freehand work begin to appear around the city of Bristol in the early 1990s, but her soon realised there was a quicker way to create graffiti…
- His identity is still shrouded in mystery and remains unknown, although he has compiled a book of his work, which includes his thoughts, called Wall and Piece
- Banksy is often controversial and in an exhibition in 2006 in Los Angeles called Barely Legal, which was said to highlight the issue of world poverty, he painted on a live “elephant in the room”. However, because of complaints made by animal rights activists the elephant appeared on the last day without the pink and gold wallpaper patterns.
- Banksy made Monet’s Water Lilly Pond his own by adding a discarded shopping trolley and trash to the painting.
- Banksy does not sell his work through commercial art galleries.
- He claims to have based his work on 3D from Massive Attack.
- In 2004, Banksy printed a batch of spoof £10 bank notes. These featured a couple of differences to the standard run – the Queen’s head was replaced by an image of Diana, Princess of Wales, and instead of “Bank of England” the text read “Banksy of England”.
- He made his first film in 2010, called Exit Through The Gift Shop, which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.
- In 2007, Banksy won the award for Art’s Greatest Living Briton but, naturally, didn’t attend the event to collect the prize in person.
- A new record sales price for Banksy’s work was set in 2007 when Space Girl & Bird fetched £288,000 at a Bonham’s auction, around 20-times its estimate.
- Banksy prints are becoming increasingly popular. In October 2014, a private gallery opened in a small village in Long Meldford, Suffolk with a Banksy print as its centrepiece.
Banksy’s latest work
In 2014, Banksy created the mural in the build-up to a by-election in October 2014, which was won, as expected, by UKIP (the UK Independence Party). The mural was hastily removed by Tendring District Council, which said someone had complained it was “racist”.
Banksy in 2016
In January 2016, Banksy created ‘The Miserables’, which shows Cosette from Les Miserables, on the outside of the French Embassy in London. The piece aims to criticize the use of teargas in the Calais Jungle refugee camp. Aware that the piece would be removed, Google’s Cultural Institute Project added images of the piece to it’s digital archive so that the piece would appear on it’s StreetView feature.
The mural included a QR code that took viewers to a video of police raiding the Calais Jungle refugee camp on January 5 2016.
‘Remember it’s always easier to get forgiveness than permission’
In June 2016 the street artist Banksy painted a primary school playground wall and left a note to say “remember it’s always easier to get forgiveness than permission” – in gratitude for them naming one of the houses of the school in Bristol after him.
The painting appeared overnight at Bridge Farm primary school in Bristol. The pupils at the primary school had written to Banksy before Easter, telling him that they had voted to rename one of their four school houses in his honour.
The headteacher of the Bridge Farm Primary, Geoff Mason, confirmed that there are no plans to sell the piece, regarding it as “inspirational and aspirational” for the pupils.
Banksy in 2017; The Worst View In The World
Banksy’s Walled Off hotel is a commentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also the UK’s role in its history. Banksy said in a statement
It’s exactly one hundred years since Britain took control of Palestine and started rearranging the furniture – with chaotic results. I don’t know why but it felt like a good time to reflect on what happens when the United Kingdom makes a huge political decision without fully comprehending the consequences.
Guests enjoy a colonial-themed building, with an array of startling Banksy pieces on display, such as paint-spattered surveillance cameras, a classical bust surrounded by a cloud of tear gas.
Walls are hot right now, but I was into them long before [Donald] Trump made it cool
You can find out more about staying at the hotel on Banksy’s website.