Lots of excitement in Banksy World at the moment with new pieces of street art appearing and old pieces being stolen.
First the two new new pieces, one has gone up in Bristol and has in effect been confirmed as a Banksy by its appearance on his website, from which these two photos are borrowed with thanks:
The second piece is a brilliant composition mocking government surveillance of our phone calls and social media interactions, as described fully by The Guardian in various Pulitzer Prize award winning articles. Everything from the subject matter to the style of the stencils, the colours, the humour, the use of the specific furniture and fabric of the street screams Banksy but as yet it hasn’t appears on his website. The location is particularly brilliant, this piece is in Cheltenham, home to the UK government spooks at GCHQ.
Everyone seems agreed it is a Banksy and I’m joining that crew! This photo was taken by flickr user Sally, thanks Sally.
The new Bristol Banksy has already been removed though not without some controversy. The piece was taken in “to prevent any vandalism or damage” by Broad Plains Boys Club based next door to the property with the Banksy on, they believe they can sell it to raise much needed funds that would help them avoid closure due to funding cuts. Certainly they seem to believe that it may have been deliberately placed there by Banksy for them to use for fund raising, even though that isn’t really his usual modus operendi for contributing to deserving causes. In their favour it seems unlike Banksy to install a nice piece like this in such a casual way that a couple of dozen easily removed cross head screws are all that stand between it and liberty. Perhaps he did want them to take it. There is a debate that the door actually belongs to the council and isn’t the Boys Club’s to remove or sell. On the other hand, reports suggest that the wood sheet it is painted on was placed there by Banksy and therefore didn’t belong to the council. Doubtless this one will run awhile until facts become fully established and lawyers chip in.
Meanwhile, in a seemingly unrelated development, a video has appeared by StealingBanksy.com showing the recent removal of a Girl With Balloon Banksy piece from a wall in Shoreditch, sometimes our tour swings by this spot.
The organisation behind its removal is part of the Sincura Group. Whispers started circulating two months ago that this Girl with Balloon was to be put on display in an exhibition this April with six other pieces of Banksy street art after which the pieces were to be auctioned. If we heard that rumour, you can be certain Banksy heard it too. We expected a publicity blizzard to blow up around this display of street Banksys but Banksy himself has hijacked the agenda by launching his own pre-emptive newsworthy stunt, cutting right across the promotional efforts to pump up the show of the street Banksys.
If Banksy hadn’t appeared on the walls at exactly this point in time, all the press coverage surrounding Sincura’s publicity hype would have focussed on “Banksy has done hardly anything in the UK recently”, now Banksy has prevented that train of thought developing steam. Great timing Banksy!
Curiously, StealingBanksy.com seems to be somewhat over-reaching in a strange attempt to dress up their activity as some kind of glamorous vandalism. Illegally stolen? Not if rumours that they bought the wall off the legal wall owners are to be believed.
Sloppy errors of fact relating to Banksy’s street art are littered across the StealingBanksy blurb. There were more than just the two Girl With Balloons they claim in London. What is their objective, to attach some sense of scarcity value to their Girl With Balloon?
The film also claims that the Girl With Balloon from King Johns Court was painted in 2006 but we know for certain it dates from well before that.
Banksy certainly dislikes his street pieces being removed and sold like this, he’d much rather they lived a natural life on the streets, even if falling victim to the buff is their fate. If speculation that he intended the mobile lovers in Bristol as a life saving gift to the Broad Plains Boys Club is in any way accurate that would be a radical change for the Master!
UPDATE: the always excellent Vandalog street art blog has just published a fascinating interview with a Director of the Sincura group, well worth reading here
Thanks to great friends ArtOfTheState and HowAboutNo for fact checking and opinion sharing and use of ArtOfTheState’s photo with kind permission, to Sally for kind permission to use her Cheltenham Banksy photo and to Banksy for use of his photos.