Thursday, 8 May 2008

Banksy, No Lions, Eelus Group Show

Or Cans Festival: you created a monster


Words: NoLionsInEngland; pictures NoLions, Howaboutno 



Foreword - Cans Festival (the bits that make sense of where this post is coming from):
Cans Festival - the first preview night visit
Cans Festival - Let Us Spray - what went on in Banksy's pet project, the public access spray zone


The gauntlet was thrown down. Cans Festival includes a come-one-come-all stencil participation event and…well, you can’t get onto the "rock up and spray" ramp unless you are going to do some art.

Brooding about this on Sunday night, I wondered how the heck I could get onto that ramp to photograph some of the awesome shit being thrown up on the un-scripted walls. Monday morning had held promise of a lie-in as it was a bank holiday but a bolt of lightening hit the NoLions boudoir in the night – to get on that ramp I've just got to somehow discover the hidden artist within.

What image though? First thought was keep it small and simple, an animal silhouette, perhaps a butterfly but oh bugger hasn’t that been done to death by Messrs Evil and Walker already. Maybe a Leopard, but you couldn’t compete with Bansky’s Tag Leopard in the show. Then slowly slowly the penny dropped – how about a Lion based image.



Banksy

The story behind the name No Lions In England is that lyrical wizard Ian Brown, previously lead singer in the Stone Roses, subsequently multiple album releasing god-like genius and also long standing street art aficionado many years ago was in a group panel discussion on TV when a demonised rasta man leaps up and started loundly querying where has the lions on the England badge came from as there had never been any lions in England. Ian Brown went on to record the track No Lions In England with a thumping bass line so low the bass strings must hang somewhere down near the guitarist's ankles.

Having adopted the NoLionsInEngland monikor about 4 years ago, it seemed a good idea to create an image involving the three lions of the England football badge and add red crosses through them.

After breakfast, an image of the badge was found on the net, tidied up, transferred to the inside of the conrnflakes packet and luckily having an unused set of Stanley knive blades, the lion stencil was born. The cross was simple, and my daughter drew the words.




We checked in at Cans Festival reception,
“you got a stencil?”
“yup”
“you got cans?”
“errrrrr”

Some marshall guy allocating spaces comes over and takes us past the Colditz barrier separating the rock-up-and-spray talent from the rubber-neckers and suggests we slap ours under the Eelus tag. He then got us the black and the red sprays. The wall was as rough as a badgers rear end and as grubby as an ant-eaters breakfast so our new friend gets us some white to prep with. This guy, dark top heavy mop of curly hair if that helps, may work for PoW though we hadn’t met before and credit to him, he couldn’t have been more encouraging and helpful – we salute you.

Ably assisted by the young Little Miss No Lions, 5 minutes later we have both wielded a spray can for the first time ever and suddenly – this stencilling thing works!





And we were able to get close up pics of all the other un-billed genius’ art on that ramp - mission accomplished! Pictures of the have-a-go hereos work are here, and a description of the fun is in an earlier blog entry "Let Us Spray".









One thing the experience lacked was any kind of tension.  It was legal, authorised and totally lacking that key element of graffiti – the danger of being caught. Why stop there? Realising that stencils can be re-used and with blog compadre HowAboutNo confessing to having a stencil of his own ready to go, a couple of pints of Guiness was all it took to generate sufficient dutch courage to have a go on the streets.





How can we avoid standing out like spare pricks in Shoreditch at home time on a Wednesday evening? That’s easy, pair of chinos, pink shirt, cufflinks, 20 marlboro. We almost faded into the walls.

3 pints of Guinness and 30 minutes pass, and next thing several walls in Shoreditch appear to be ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly more vandalised than before. It seems a sort of very polite dis-obedience.




Tomorrow, we may return to the scene of the crime to get some snaps of our handiwork which we may add to this blurb.

Did it work? Tonight’s mindless wall daubing is a minuscule vindication of what the organisers of Cans Festival set out to achieve, to spread wider the use of the spray can and stencil as a means of public expression, to unleash the un-suspected and hidden talent in us all. We like to believe that this is being repeated up and down the country and the seeds sown last weekend at Cans will flourish over the coming years.






POST SCRIPT:

Cans Festival proved to be something Graffoto had to devote far more than this post to, here is the full set of related posts:

Cans Festival - the first preview night visit
Cans Festival - Let Us Spray - what went on in Banksy's pet project, the public access spray zone
Banksy, No Lions, Eelus Group Show - Banksy wanted anyone apart from artists to take up stencilling, we accepted the challenge
Cans Festival - One More Sniff - How the Cans wall art evolved in the first month or so after the event
Cans Recycled - First Peek - An un-scheduled sneak peek at the second version of Cans Festival when the tunnel was closed for a few days.
Cans Recycled Opens - Like it says on the tin
Alphabet Soup - The Cans 2 Letter Hunt - A Rarekind of letter game played at Cans Recycled
Cans2 Recycled Revisited - more.

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