Sunday, December 20, 2009

Banksy Hits Regents Canal

Before I set out this morning on the minimal effort that passes as my contribution to the irreligious Xmas consumer fest, I glanced though my Flickr contacts' latest uploads and saw ArtOfTheState had uploaded a new Banksy. And when AOTS calls it as a Banksy, it damn well is a Banksy.

I recognised the building and thought "I'll bring my camera", the Christmas shopping (quick trip to QPR club shop) was even more brutal than usual. Within the hour I was on the canal chuckling at Banksy's timely comment on the failure of the Copenhagen accord to produce any significant cooperation on global measures to reduce climate change and its impact.

Global Warming Scepticism

This can only have been done from a boat, they must have looked a bit like the marines delivering the milk tray.

Street art's greatest pleasure comes from finding an unknown, well executed and well positioned piece of art and when that piece is a Banksy the thrill is squared. I was knocked out to find nearby this fishing boy on the canal bank hauling rubbish out of the canal with the added joke layer being that the rubbish is a Banksy tag, now a ubiquitous piece of urban detritus.

Tag fisher boy

The canalside location looks exactly like the kind of place where a feral estate rat might cut school to go fishing and pull nothing but crap out of the river and the self deprecating humour of the rubbish being Banky's own tag, magic.

While uploading pics from the camera at home, a txt "heads up" to street art fan Romanywg produced the response "there aint two, there's four". More to the point, Romanywg told me one of them was very special and, without giving away the secret, he suggested I'd regret not heading back out into the sub-zero Camden frost and seeing the others.

Boy was he ever 100% right, the other side of Camden is the gorgeous and comical instant graffiti decorator. The spot is underneath a bridge and rather dark but the colours are lush (there are no colour tweaks in the picture below). Use of the working man device makes this a spiritual brother of the yellow line painter in east London and sort of the polar opposite of the graffiti remover from Cans I.

Instant Graffiti

Yellow lines painter (East London, 2008)

prehistoric buffer (Cans I 2008)

Finally, there was a fourth smaller piece, a one colour top-hatted dandy-rat. Banksy's rat society has evolved strata such as this toff lording it over the river rats - hints of Animal Farm anyone? This is an interesting return to the rat motif which hasn't been seen for a while (even if you do include the NY 2008 rats, which I dont). In this one there is a link to the bouncer rat of 4 or 5 years ago. Of the four new pieces, this is the weakest in terms of execution, you are hard pressed to decide which of the three legs is actually a tail. tut tut.

Dandy Rat

Bouncer Rat (look closely at the wall - very faded even in autumn 2006)

Anyone who contends that somehow Banksy's moment has passed or that his relevance has diminished should look at his achievements this year: the Bristol show, the Westway highway roller bandit, the Dalston Bboy, No Ball Games, last graffiti before motorway and now this minimalist pure graffiti comment on global warming scepticism and the other three lush canalside stencil pieces. Yes, the man retains his touch and until the council buffers mobilise a marine buffer unit (yeah - I know hackney has one!), some of these pieces could roll for quite a while.

More pics here

ps - thanks to Xylo for spotting a glaring error in my first draft.

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