Graffiti artist Banksy was the subject of a fascinating slide talk at the Winchelsea New Hall on Wednesday July 12. Andrew Ashton, an artist himself who gave many interesting talks at Rye Art Gallery when he was a trustee, gave us an insight into the best known, yet unknown publicly, graffiti master. He called it – Satire, Politics and Humour.
In Banksy’s book Wall and Piece he says: “Graffiti is not the lowest from of art. There is no elitism or hype, it’s actually the most honest art form available. It exhibits on some of the best walls a town has to offer and nobody is put off by the price of admission.” Andrew also had wonderful slides of other graffiti artists.
It is certainly true that most of Banksy’s art has irony behind it but of course each person studying one of his pictures on a wall comes away with their own interpretation. Andrew thought the flower thrower image (main picture) was a mix of peace and war. Banksy also uses conventional art and fits in his own take on it. In his book there is a picture of the Monet painting of the bridge and the lily pond, except that he has added several shopping carts thrown into the pond, and entitled it “Show me the Monet”. His statements are often a commentary of how we live in this modern age.
Banksy’s art can be seen across the world as well as in this country and sadly at times, because of its potential value, paintings have been cut out from a wall and sold, thus taking away the pleasure for others. Protection in front of images has sometimes been necessary. Most recently he has painted a huge mural in Dover based on the EU flag. Andrew told us that occasionally a local council, depending on the political element, will make sure the art is taken down very quickly and yet in other places Council officials have been very protective and proud to have it in their area.
The biggest statement, I think, Banksy has made is creating the hotel in Bethlehem called the “Walled Off” hotel. It was built in secret over the past 14 months beside the barrier wall that separates Palestine from Israel. Banksy hopes it will spark a dialogue evidenced through his choice of artwork. Each room is being touted as the “worst view in the world” which is the eight-metre-high concrete barrier. However, the hotel is like a museum inside, displaying his amazing art.
It was a most interesting insight into an anonymous but very effective artist in our modern world.
Pictures provided by Andrew Ashton