Originally based in Bristol, Banksy has gone on to become one of the most well-known and controversial street artists, hitting locations across the world with his trademark witty stencil works. It seems as if nowhere is out of his reach, be it the animal enclosures of London Zoo, the rides of Disneyland, or even the wall of the West Bank Barrier.
Just recently, on Easter Monday, a new Banksy was discovered in Fitzrovia, central London, next to the BT Tower . Reading ‘If graffiti could change anything it would be illegal’, it’s his first work since the run-up to the Oscars in Los Angeles.
It probably won’t be long before it is either protected or removed – be it by the local authority or another tagger. Given the transient nature of Banky’s work, it’s difficult to keep track of which paintings are still around, so here’s our guide to the best surviving originals to seek out in three of our destinations.
The Regent’s Canal in Camden was one of Banksy’s old haunts, holding several of his most well known works over the years. Now there’s just one left: a chalk outline of a room with a pair of highly detailed goldfish.
The popular Cargo nightclub, five minutes from Liverpool Street Station in Shoreditch, holds two Banksys: ‘His Master’s Voice’ and ‘Designated Graffiti Area’. Both can be found in the Rivington Street club’s beer garden, the former protected behind plexiglass.
Another protected Banksy is ‘Pledge your Allegiance to Tesco’ – although it has been victim of multiple attacks from other taggers, it has been repainted several times. This is one of Banksy’s most iconic works and can be found on Essex Road, Islington, near to Essex Road Station and St. Stephen’s Church.
Having previously hit Disneyland, Banksy returned to LA for the Oscars, and sprayed up several more stencils in the run-up to the awards. Of these, only three remain. The ‘Crayon Shooter’ is at the Urban Outfitters store in Westwood Village, and although it has been slightly defaced, is now protected. Also under plexiglass is the ‘Crayon House’ on Washington Boulevard at Compton Avenue in Downtown LA.
Another new Banksy depicting a dog cocking its leg against a wall on Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills can be seen outside the JEM Community Centre, a short walk from the Electric Fountain. There’s also an older work at 9th and Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles, by the Orpheum Theatre, of a girl swinging from a parking sign.
For a broader look at street art and graffiti, there is also a fascinating exhibit at the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art called Art in the Streets, which contains a section on Banksy. It runs until 8th August.
In the build-up to the release of his documentary, “˜Exit through the Gift Shop’, Banksy also hit San Francisco with six new works. Although only three remain now, they have been kept in good condition.
In a car park on Erie and Mission Street, just off the Central Fairway in the Mission District, Banksy stencilled a single bird singing in a tree. Since it first appeared, the image has been surrounded by other graffiti artists’ work; one of the great strengths of street art is the way that works can change constantly, and this is a real testament to that.
The second SF piece depicts a rat drawing a skull and crossbones on the wall of the rooftop at 1309 Howard Street in South of Market, a short walk from the San Francisco Civic Center.
Finally, a stencil of a doctor reading the heart rate of Peace and Love is at 720 Grant Avenue, in between Commercial Street and Sacramento Street. Close to the Cable Car museum in Chinatown, this has also been protected.
Thanks to Flickr photographers kathybragg, bixentro, jeeheon, modernrockstar, JulieFaith, dennis and El Payo, and to NeverLeaveLondon for the header image of ‘Balloon Girl’ on London’s South Bank (since removed).
Have you seen any other Banksys or other interesting street art in these cities? Let us know in the comments below.