Wednesday, 30 May 2012

City Seen with Kayla Smith

Banksy's Jubilee Stencil

RDC: Meet Kayla Smith the Collective's new intrepid reporter from the London, UK area.

In her first article she looks at the recent spray piece by Banksy, celebrating the Queen's Jubilee in his own unique way. 

Like him or loath him it's nice to see he is in the holiday mood and not flagging, so to speak...

Real Art Protected: A New Use for Perspex Casing

This month has seen some terrific news among graffiti communities all over the world. It comes from a city that is home to some of the world’s finest graffiti and artists, including the legendary illusive character that is Banksy. An icon and an inspiration to graffiti artists from various corners of the globe, Banksy’s work epitomises all that it means to be a graffiti artist: outspoken viewpoints, bringing to light social and political injustices, and mixing them with art that is individual and expressive.

Over the years Banksy has been in action around the streets of London where we have been witness to some masterpieces, which have appeared on some of the city’s most iconic and noticeable buildings. We have marvelled at their random appearances and waited with baited breath for the next. We have watched Banksy’s pieces become synonymous with London culture. Who can forget the time when one of his pieces was ordered to be removed by the council, only for anarchists to remove the entire wall and then sell it on as an art piece?

Destined for removal

We have watched in horror as one by one, Banksy’s pieces have often been removed as quickly as they have appeared. For Banksy, although seen as an artist by many, is seen as a vandal by others. He is victim to removal just like any other graffiti artist. However, a new protection has been given to one of the artist’s new creations. And if Banksy is to be treated the same as any other graffiti artist, this new idea could be a fantastic ground to take when arguing for the protection of our own work.

Banksy’s latest work shows a young boy kneeling down over a sewing machine making what looks to be the Queen’s Jubilee street party accessories in a sweatshop. It has been painted on to the side of a building that is home to bargain high street shopping chain, Poundland, in Whymark Avenue near Turnpike Lane in North London.

It is thought that the latest Banksy work of art could be worth many thousands of pounds. The aforementioned wall, after all, was sold for a whopping £200,000 on auction site, eBay. The prospective value of this new piece has been enough for someone to take a stand; the painting has been covered in a Perspex plastic covering frame.

Positive reaction

The residents of Turnpike Lane have reacted positively to the appearance of the latest piece of art work and are all in favour of its protection. It has been known for people to destroy Banksy works of art in the past – not just the authorities, but also everyday citizens. For example, in Melbourne in Australia, a Banksy piece was recently destroyed when a disgruntled builder decided to drill a hole through it; ‘The Parachuting Rat’ was ruined during the builder’s pipe installation work. Also, whether accidental or not, people have vandalised his work. Once, a council even accidentally painted over one of his other pieces. There have also been cases of the buildings being demolished – some of his works were painted on derelict buildings or those in severe need of an asbestos survey – signalling the end of many more Banksy masterpieces.

London newspaper, the Evening Standard, recently spoke to residents in Turnpike Lane to find out what they really thought of the piece. The paper reported a positive reaction to the plastic encasing, indicating that this could be the way forward for the protection of unauthorised, but desirable, street masterpieces. The Evening Standard spoke to a local resident, James Longshaw, 42. He said: 

“It’s a work of art, so of course I enjoy it. It will probably put house prices up in the area – that’s what has happened in areas where he has been before.

“I don’t see why anyone should object, all it means is the area has arrived. He isn’t attacking the area, he is attacking businesses in the area which exploit people in sweatshops.

“Banksy is promoting an issue by painting this but I don’t think a lot of people will know what it means – they might think it is just any graffiti.”

Maybe there is a new market out there – the protection of Banksy’s latest piece could spark an increased demand for the production of Perspex casing. If Banksy’s works are good enough to receive this kind of treatment, maybe we should apply the tactic to preservation of our own work?


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