A while back I wrote a short piece about the Banksy Exhibition that took place back in July and August 2009 at the Bristol City Museum. You may never have heard of Banksy (until now), but here in Bristol he’s big news as the Bristol-born street-artist who made the big time. There are still a few pieces around town of his that I pass on my way to work every day although most of them have long ago been rollered over by the Bristol City Council. If ever Banksy had a major exhibition it was in Bristol that he was going to find an appreciative audience.
When the exhibition opened, the first thing I noticed were the long lines outside the City Museum which I pass on my way to work. Being a Banksy fan, I made a mental note to visit as soon as the crowds had died down after the first few days. But the crowds never did die down, bearing in mind that the Museum is free and so was this exhibition. Every day they got longer and longer until the side road was blocked by the queue and had to be closed and signs were put up showing how many hours you’d have to wait.
What you need to know about Banksy is that he carefully cultivates his anonymity and no-one knows who he really is (except the other street artists he used to hang out with and my son who apparently goes to the same school) The fact that he might be next to you in the queue always adds a little frisson of excitement. Banksy still comes up with the occasional piece of street art but he now seems to have moved on to collectable pieces. There was definitely a thing going on with the Old Masters theme in these Turner-esqe landscapes and the pieces in the gilt frames that were blended in with the other 19th century artwork on the first floor.
I just love the humour that you find in Banksy’s work, casting a slightly mocking eye over the ‘serious’ art world, like this take on a Damien Hurst spotty picture that’s been rollered over, no doubt by one of those rats from Bristol City Council that are a real Banksy trademark.
There’s the patriotic ‘Best of British’ theme but then you realise that the little girl’s wearing a Flak Jacket and the kitchy Americana to the glory of the aerosol. Children often feature in Banksy’s street art when he uses them with irony to make a political or anti-war message.
I loved the exhibition when I finally visited and it was worth every minute of the wait and I even had to go around a second time to make sure I had all the pictures. It was also refreshing to be in an art exhibition where you could take as many pictures as you liked, as Banksy’s ethos is that art is for the people.
Take a look at the Banksy Website for more of his work.