Sunday, 20 December 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.

Historical note - The full Banksy vs Robbo timeline:

Banksy hits Camden

Banksy vs Robbo...Did You Think It Was Over?

And The Beef Goes On

Banksy v Robbo: War Continues

Banksy Reparations

2014, sadly..  Robbo RIP


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

i am honestly gob smacked that he has gone over that legendary robbo piece.
was he aware of the horrific crime he was committing?
if not then banksy should be told that he has just made the biggest mistake of his super sell out career!
robbo is one of the most important writers in the whole history of london graffiti and he has just painted over one of his pieces thats been there since the 80's....fuck me!i hope robbo slaps him up good and proper and i rarely wish violence on anyone.

absolute fucking pisstake!

Anonymous said...

I think Banksy has saved this Robbo from being completely taken out by piss taking toy writers .. lets face facts here , it was dogged to hell. Banksy has probably done more for Robbo by salvaging this piece than anything else !
Nice one Banksy . Legend.

Anonymous said...

errrm... toy writers eh?
you have clearly demonstrated yourself to be one with your ill educated and frankly ridiculous comment!
Robbo's piece has been there for 25 years and was still clearly readable. It's one of the first pieces to have been done in London and has largely been left untouched due to the respect it commands (remember 25 years!!!)... then along comes bloody banksy and uses it as a tool for his 'humourous' work.
I for one didn't mind some of his stuff purely in an art sense, however, I am no longer a fan in any sense of the word......

out of order!!!

vnmz01 said...

even if it was a 25 year old piece it was still toy and it still is toy to this day graff is about style not crap robbos piece was garbage and you can tell it had been totally dissed banksy saved this robbo guy from being an obscure writer that only some like five people had ever heard of now he gets some publicity and he acts like he be a king writer.

Anonymous said...

vnmz01, you know absolutely nothing.
Robbo was/is a pioneer and helped shape graffiti in London and throughout europe. if it wasn't for pioneers such as him, the likes of Banksy would not exist. Learn a bit of history before you pass judgement. Robbo is a highly respected figure in the London graffiti scene, i can assure you he is not 'some obscure writer that only 5 people have ever heard of'... you are a moron! and a toy at that!!

Anonymous said...

Different tastes. Some like some dislike. Let it wear out slowly over time, thats the end point of that piece.
Its 20 something years old, Robbo had kid's and moved on after colouring our streets for many years.
Let it fade away gracefully with age and never be revamped, touched up or anything like that.
Banksy went over it like he was da man, when he could have got one of his less talented little helpers to do a tag and do what he wants to it. Why bother someone elses work? Makes no different if Mr Banksy decides if its liked or not!
That fishing boy TAG he did to revamp his popularity in Camden was a good stencil.
I like both their work and understand there from different ends of the same street game. Dont think thier the best at what they do, but thats my opinion...+ I promise not to put it on anyones work.