Britain is a politically confused country in many ways. It wears socialist values in a conservative manner, deferring to a prestigious royal family whilst supporting heros of anarchy, such as the Sex Pistols.
We made Punk. We take protesting to the next level. No one on earth can tell the Union Jack what to do. However there is one particular modern individual that even her Majesty herself couldn’t keep quiet. The world renowned street artist, political activist and film director of unverified identity, Banksy.
His street art has gone from being removed by local authorities up and down the country, as items of vandalism, to appearing on Kate Moss’s own bedroom wall. He is a force to be reckoned with.
Although street art itself originated as “subway art” in New York with the Hip Hop movement, it didn’t take long before it found it’s way across the pond onto the streets of London, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow. And like so many things from across said pond, Britain made it better.
Banksy is believed to have started his career on the streets of Bristol with the “DryBreadZ” crew. The majority of his work at this time was freehand, but showed the occasional use of stencils which would go on to become the signature of his work. Throughout the late 1990’s Banksy’s stamp started to crop up in both Bristol and London and quickly received interest.
What makes his art so treasured by Britain? It’s socialist! It’s intuitive. It’s revolutionary. It has no fear. It challenges our police officers, our royals, our government and frankly shows how easily they can be outwitted. It challenges us as individuals making us question our preconceptions. One of Banksy’s first exhibitions was created in a tunnel in London. How was this achieved with modern health and safety regulations? Well, the mysterious Banksy simply “borrowed” a decorator’s sign, dressed up in overalls, and pretended to be cleaning up, whilst he was actually exhibiting his art. The exhibition was completed in twenty-five minutes and was followed with a hip hop music blaring, beer drinking opening night later in the week, #British.
Banksy continued on his revolutionary path, fighting with a can of spray paint, leaving his battle slogans in the streets of Britain. As his fame and voice grew, so did his projects. One of the most noteable of these was his work on the West Bank Barrier between Palestine and Isreal in 2005. One of the most dangerous walls in the world and probably the most significant wall since the Berlin Wall. Fearless, the artist painted all over it, demonstrating his political views on the situation. One of the most touching of which, the child with the balloon, trying to see over the wall.
As Banksy became a house hold name and gained more global coverage, he became a worldwide phenomenon, risking his freedom to make his point. Challenging our everyday western lifestyle, icons and political leaders.
Banksy moved to America, part of the journey is documented in the film “Exit through the Giftshop” directed by Mr. Brainwash. The film features various street artists and the famous Banksy Exhibition which hosted a painted elephant in the room.
Banksy could be seen as the Robin Hood of the art world, taking a criminal act and transforming it into something positive. Changing perception, a master of deception, Banksy is an ambassador of the British Public and his art is a well deserving addition to any home. Be Banksy, Be British.