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Me and my Banksy

  • Posted Wednesday, 23 January 2008 at 15:45 UK time

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Readers of our How do you spot a Banksy? feature have been sending in photos of their favourite Banksy works or Banksy imitations.

Banksy and a rat? Have we been here before?

Yes, we have. In 2004, the artist smuggled a dead rat in a glass-fronted box into the Natural History Museum and left it there as an exhibit.

The mural above appeared in Reading but was washed off by the landlord after a few months, says Dave McManus.

"I was a fan of the Chav Rat, I walked past it on my way to work every day and it always put a smile on my face.

"It didn't really matter whether it was a real Banksy, it was done in a humorous spirit and was better than the brainless scrawls that covered the rest of wall. It's a shame to see it gone."

David Lee, editor of The Jack Daw, says he doubts whether it's authentic Banksy.

"This one looks wrong if only because the message is too overt. Usually, he leaves the passer-by to decide on any meaning.

"Banksy is no Michelangelo but he has basic drawing skills and this one looks muddled and crude. It could of course be a bad Banksy: not even Rembrandt got it right every time.

"I sympathise with the reader: when there is graffiti with a message it is a small addition not an eyesore. Where Banksy is concerned it is obvious that the public are well in front of the Widdecombes and the law in preserving and restoring the ones they like."

phonebox_432_200.jpgToday's entry was submitted by Kevin Towler, who took this picture of a phone box that appeared in central London.

"A company working for Westminster Council was given the task of collecting it and looking after it until it was collected. This was the first time I had actually heard of Banksy.

"I like it because I have had some personal involvement with the piece. Also it is quite a technical piece considering how somebody can put a bend in an old-fashioned telephone box and fit all the glass.

"At the time people were considering just taking it to a scrap merchant until somebody said how much it was worth. It was later collected by his staff."

David Lee of the arts newsletter The Jack Daw says the phone box should have been left where it was because it's better than most "public art" imposed by councils.

"Anything that wakes people up to their surroundings has got to be an advantage. As with all these stunts it got Banksy masses of publicity, all of it good.

"What does it 'mean'? The Scott phone box is an icon of design, a symbol of the establishment and Banksy has bent it and driven a pick through its heart.

"It's basic agitprop stuff and you should never expect profundity from an entertainer who delivers quickfire gags."

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The third "Banksy" is a mural in Easton, Bristol, submitted by Andrew Giaquinto.

"A lovely reminder each day of the very sad world we are living in at the moment, given the global conflicts around us," he says. "I was told the war finished in 1945!! Aargh!!"

David Lee, editor of The Jack Daw, a newsletter for the visual arts, says: "Though pessimistic in theme I agree with the sender it is an unavoidably powerful message.

"I would certainly stop and look at it. It continues the anti-war stance taken by angry young activists, as Banksy seems to be.

"If all graffiti were as pictorial, emotive and narrative as this one, the streets would be a more interesting place to inhabit than is currently the case given the thoughtless tendency of most urban planners to blight our surroundings."


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The second entry comes from Barry Dunkley, who says: "This is a picture of a new Banksy work that is on Pollard Street, E2, just down the road from Brick Lane.

"This kind of work is great, as it gives you something better to look at, rather than the 'tag' graffiti that litters street walls all over the country, especially in London.

"Councils should commision more work like this to brighten up the dark and dull streets."

David Lee, editor of The Jack Daw arts newsletter, says Banksy was photographed by a passer-by painting this one.

"It was definitely Banksy himself, the burly frame and slight stoop giving it away. I recognised him only because I once met him for a television programme and he was an articulate and polite fellow not at all oafish or foul-mouthed in the 'Young British Artist' manner."

It is also a typical Banksy in the way it makes a simple point pithily, he says. "I can't see why anyone would be offended by this.

"Admittedly it is not great art but it is a small positive addition to the experience of an otherwise depressing street."

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Fittingly, our mini-series began in Banksy's native Bristol, where Stephen Parsons snapped this last month on the wall of a police station.

It was the same night the famous guerilla artist was apparently in the city, signing autographs at a nightclub.

"By the morning it was gone, and so far I haven't found anyone else with pictures of it," he says.

"The style and subject matter is undeniably Banksy, but it wasn't done with stencils and paint, but with thin paper glued, badly, to the wall.

"When people clocked that this was the case everyone started ripping pieces off as souvenirs. What do you think - real Banksy?"

Over to David Lee, editor of The Jack Daw, a newsletter for the visual arts, for his verdict.

"I agree with the sender. It closely echoes Banksy's style and the agitprop nature of his politics," he says. "You never get anything politically profound or nuanced from a youngster.

"Gluing it to a police station is also typical of Banksy's in-yer-face cavalier attitude to the law. He would have to have stuck it quickly to the wall otherwise it would have taken him four or five hours during which he would have had his collar felt by the scuffers.

"Normally the symbolism is obvious but the chest of drawers has got me stumped. Anyone got any ideas what it could mean?"

Readers made a few suggestions below about the chest of drawers and some pointed out the real artist was in fact Adam Koukoudakis.

Email your Banksy-esque picture to yourpics@bbc.co.uk, subject BANKSY, with an explanation why you like it. Here are the terms and conditions. We will feature one picture each day.


Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 11:53 AM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Stuart wrote:

Another name for a chest of drawers is a 'tall boy'. The tall boy is also the name of a WW2 bomb developed by Barnes Wallace.
Bomb - police - Banksy, makes sense to me.
On the other hand that theory is about as convoluted as a Ted Rogers 3-2-1 clue.

  • 2.
  • At 12:08 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Danny C wrote:

It's not a chest of drawers, it's a cabinet.

GB's government announce every error as Blair's legacy that has yet to be weeded out.

The picture represents Blair as the fall guy taking all the flack, whilst the cabinet remain unscathed.

  • 3.
  • At 12:13 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Lucy B wrote:

It's a cabinet, right? Fits with the other imagery. Blair's got egg all over him because . . . something something his cabinet. He's too removed from it? It's old and wooden? He should be removed from it (some of Banksy's references date rather quickly)?

  • 4.
  • At 12:29 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Internet Curtains wrote:

Obviously (?) Tony has got his cabinet standing behind him.

  • 5.
  • At 01:47 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Facts straightener wrote:

This has 2 links to Banksy. It's on the street and it's stencil work. David Lee should appreciate that Banksy is renowned for multi-layered stencil works in provocative positions, NOT paste ups however.

Plus he'd probably also get done for plagiarism given that this piece is by Adam Koukoudakis, entitled The Right To Remain Silent.

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