Christmas day is traditionally, in London at least, an occasion for graffiti writers to brush the turkey off their chops and head to the tunnels and lay-ups for some seasonal decorative activities. Banksy got his Christmas celebrations in early by hitting Regents Canal in Camden last weekend. In doing so, this spectacular piece caused uproar among London’s old school graffiti writers and if you want to get a sense of the outrage, check the comments on this flickr picture here.
The issue at stake is going over an ancient 1985 piece by Robbo WD, WRH, (World Domination, We Rock Hard etc etc) truly one of the pioneers of graff in London in the mid 80s. I am indebted to Citrus Topnote Jr who put up this historic picture. This piece gone over by Banksy was 25 years old (check the date in Citrus’ picture)!
photo: Citrus Topnote Jr
There is more to the beef than appears at first glance. In the 2009 book “London Handstyles”, there is a story from Robbo: 'I was out one night with a load of old writers and got introduced to Banksy. He asked what I wrote and I told him, he cockily replied ''never heard of you'' so I slapped him and said, ''you may not of heard of me but you will never forget me''. The truth in the story is evident in Banky’s very pointed taking out of Robbo’s piece, there is no mere accident in the placing of Banksy’s decorator.
The riposte from Robbo has been swift and classy, in effect saying you use my piece in your shit, I’ll use your shit in mine.
Banksy’s decorator now pays homage to Robbo. Talk about attention to detail, even Banksy’s roll of wallpaper under the decorator’s arm has been removed. Beef doesn’t get much more heavyweight than this and Robbo has more than matched Banksy’s wit. Robbo’s piece deserves wide recognition and it’s quite unlikely that Banksy’s intended effect was to give Robbo the massive elevation, appreciation and profile that is coming from this spat.
The only way to this ledge is by water, in Robbo’s words on his flickr this morning “down the canal ina wet suit on Christmas morning ho ho ho”, the property over this ledge is occupied by BTP – a delicious irony. The bit that puzzles me is I believe (but risk being corrected quite sharply) that one of Banksy’s key crew also writes WD. Curious.
Update - check Robbo's flick, in particular go down to Keen-one's comments, here.
Old news: Banksy hits Camden
The Saga continues:
Banksy vs Robbo...Did You Think It Was Over?
And The Beef Goes On
Banksy v Robbo: War Continues