Wikipedia describes Banksy as an ‘anonymous England-based street artist, vandal, political activist, and film director, active since the 1990s’ and we couldn’t do any better than that! While the artist is officially anonymous, it is fair to say that Bristol is his or her believed home as most of his earliest work originated on our streets. Some of the finest street art in Bristol can be credited to or is inspired by the mysterious artist. Here’s what we know:
What do we know about Banksy?
The only thing we can be 100% sure about is the artist’s immense talent and his ability to use his satirical street art to create a very unique social commentary the topics of which many find unsettling. As previously mentioned, infamous street artist Banksy is believed to have started his street art career in Bristol and a number of his pieces survive today visible on streets, walls, and bridges throughout the city. His works of political and social commentary are often in a distinctive stencilling form but can often come in larger, more 3d forms like the famous tank on display in the Moco Museum in Amsterdam.
It is estimated that Banksy lived & graffitied in Bristol roughly from 1990–1999, moving to London in 2000. His work has evolved over the two decades in operation, but the message is usually anti-war, anti-capitalist or anti-establishment. Subjects often include rats, apes, policemen, soldiers, children, and the elderly.
His first known large mural was ‘The Mild Mild West’, painted in 1997 Stokes Croft in Bristol. It depicts a teddy bear throwing a supposed Molotov cocktail at three police officers in riot gear. Since then the art has been in many different mediums, from banknotes (Banksy notes) distributed at festivals, prints of famous faces altered to send a specific message (The Queen, model Kate Moss, Mona Lisa etc) and a 30-foot mural, entitled Fragile Silence on the side of a mobile home, which subsequently sold for an amazing £500,000.
Banksy Tours in Bristol
You can enjoy a weekend in Bristol while taking in the artwork of one of Bristol’s most popular and mysterious residents. Banksy is known worldwide and worth an astonishing £38million, so we are honoured and privileged to have some of his notable works on public display in the city. Banksy no longer sells photographs or reproductions of his street graffiti, but his public “installations” are regularly resold, often by removing the wall they were painted on. The artist is an opposer of “commercial success” and has discouraged people from buying his work but that doesn’t stop people cashing in.
Some of the works that can be seen on a Banksy walking tour in Bristol include:
- ‘Well Hung Lover’ on Frogmore Street depicting a man hanging out his lover’s window while her assumed husband looks for him suspiciously.
- ‘Mild Mild West’ as discussed above, on Stokes Croft
- ‘Girl with the Pierced Eardrum’ a take on the famous Girl with the Pearl Earring by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer except the earring in this case is a security alarm. This one is found on Hanover Place.
- ‘The Grim Reaper / The Ferryman’ formerly graffitied on the side of a permanently moored boat which was being used as a nightclub.
- ‘The Paint Pot Angel’ which is technically not street art, is a sculpture of an angel, which stands in the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery’s sculpture hall, over whose head Banksy had dumped a can of pink paint, leaving the can in place. It was erected as part of an exhibition showcasing over 100 Banksy originals and has been untouched for 11 years. https://ial.uk.com/banksys-paint-pot-angel-legal-rights-and-the-art-market/
Banksy is not the only talented street artist that comes from Bristol. Our streets are filled with street art in many different forms from local and international guests’ artists. If you’d like to visit Banksy’s notorious artwork in person, book your stay in PREMIER SUITES aparthotel Bristol today. Our great location is just a short walk from many notable artworks, as well as all of the other insightful tourist attractions in the city. Remember to book directly on our website or by contacting one of our friendly team for our best available rates.